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John Wilson and Son, Camuridge. 




^ijj J^ecorb of the ifiviit ^oternor of the ;^tatc 



The circumscribed limits of this volume make a 
word of preface necessary for that general submission 
of authorities and credentials of which particular note 
could not be made. 

Apart from official documents, Bienville has no 
bibliography, except the short account of him con- 
tained in the " Histoire de Longueuil et de la Famille 
de Longueuil," by Messrs. Alex. lodoin and I. L. 
Vincent. It is to these excellent, painstaking com- 
pilers that we are indebted for the publication in book 
form of the only two unofficial documents of Bienville 
in existence, — a letter to his brother, and his will. 
Also, for much new and interesting information about 
Charles Le Moyne and his family. The authors explain 
the lack of fuller and more private details of this his- 
torical family by the destruction of their accumulations 
of papers in Montreal, in order to clear out a garret 
needed for the quartering of troops during the affair 
of the "Trent." 

For official documents, recourse was had directly to 
the two separate transcriptions made from the originals 
in the Archives de la Marine, by M. Pierre Margry and 


M. Magne, for the State of Louisiana, now in the li- 
brary of the Tulane University of Louisiana. These, 
superadded to M. Margry's " Explorations et D^cou- 
vertes," with his r^sumd of the times and circumstances 
contained in the introductory notes of the fifth and 
sixth volumes, form a clear and almost perfect docu- 
mentary historv of the French settlement of Louisiana. 
Use was made of the "Journal Historique" whenever 
dates and facts tallied with the above authorities. The 
rich historical French library of Tulane University, which 
contains all and more of the bibliography of Louisiana 
cited, furnished the general information. 

The labours of an archiviste of Pans, employed to 
discover some traces of Bienville after his retirement 
to that city, were fruitless. The parish registers which 
might have given a clew to his residence were burned 
in the Hotel de Ville in 1871. The registers of Mont- 
martre Cemetery, which might have revealed the loca- 
tion of his tomb, are also missing. 

No Louisiana historical question can be treated with- 
out tributary homage to the Hon. Charles Gayarre. 
It may be said that it is he, the former of the State 
Library, the devoted collector of archives and tradi- 
tions, and, for half a century, the indefatigable explorer 
in colonial records, who has made intelligent work 
in Louisiana history possible to the present genera- 
tion. Acknowledgment is made to. him with sincere 


Grace King. 

Paris, April 5, 1892. 



Jean Baptiste le Moyne, the son of Charles le 
Moyne, ^cuyer, Sieur de Longueuil, and of Dame 
Catherine Primot, his wife, was born at Ville Marie, 
Canada, on the 23d of February, 1680, and baptized, 
according to the parish registry, the same day, having 
for godfather Jean le Ber, son q{ Jacques le Ber, and 
for godmother Marianne Jeanne de Carrion, daughter 
of Philippe de Carrion, Sieur du Fresnoy. He was the 
twelfth child and eighth son of his parents. 

Charles le Moyne and Catherine Primot belonged to 
that sturdy emigrant stock which, yielding the Cana- 
dians the first and best fruits of French blood on 
American soil furnished a race of pioneers to the New 
World unequalled, if not unsurpassed, by any that its 
history chronicles. 

When one says Canadian, one says Norman, and 
when one says Norman, one says Scandinavian. And 
for bold hardihood, valour, and endurance ; for dauntless 

* Histoire de Longueuil et de la Famille Longueuil, par Alex, 
lodoin et L L. Vincent 



enterprise, persistent effort, and imextinguishable de- 
termination, — for all the rugged, crude essentials of 
primitive virility, these recrudescent adventurers loom 
up in the dawn of American settlement with the huge 
distinction and gigantic proportions of their Homeric 
ancestors. Without exaggeration it may be said, what 
Frr<nce gained in America, she gained through her Nor- 
mans ; what she lost, she lost in her own capital. 

It was from the town of Dieppe that Charles le Moyne 
issued. He was the son of Pierre le Moyne and 
Judith Duchesne, and was baptized in the parish 
church of St. Remi de Dieppe on the 2d of August, 
1626, receiving, it is carefully stated, the name of 
Charles from the honourable man, Charles le Douy, 
his godfather. 

When he was about seven years of age, his parents 
moved from the parish of St. Remi to that of St. 
Jacques, — the patron saint of fishermen, — the quarter 
of the seafaring folk. Here they kept an hostelry. 

Ever since the days of Champiain, Dieppe had been 
one of the busiest stations on the road from the Old 
France to the New. Through the little Norman sea- 
port, as through a bunghole, gushed a constant stream 
of emigration, the overflow from the effervescent popu- 
lation inside. Its streets were thronged, its hostelries 
crowded, by the outgoing, waiting for a bark, the incom- 
ing, for post-horses. Ship after ship loaded at its quay, 
— an overload generally of passengers aureoled in ad- 
vance by the spectators not only with heavenly crowns, 
but with the more tangible ones of earth, namely, 
adventurers seeking a new chance at life, fame, and 
fortune ; merchants and scientists, grave with secret 


theories of transatlantic finances and physics ; soldiers, 
Government appointees, priests, singly or in company 
with fervent bands of devotees, inflamed, if not inspired, 
to Christianize the distant savages out of the powers of 
hell and the devil. 

It is easily conceived what the greedy ears and in- 
quisitive eyes of a precocious lad would pick up in such 
scenes. It is not conceivable that an enterprising lad 
should hold back at such a time and such a place ; for 
under the impulse of the Socie'tt^ ,de Ville Marie, Dieppe 
was furnishing, not only the means, but the subjects for 
emigration from her own and neighbouring precincts. la 
1 64 1, at the age of fifteen, Charles Le Moyne, joining a 
band of his townspeople, shipped for Quebec, where a 
maternal uncle, Adrien Duchesne, had established him- 
self some twenty years before. By taking service with 
the Jesuits, he opened his career in the New World with 
a shrewdness which testifies that he had profited by 
hearsay in the Old. The Jesuits sent him into the 
country of the Hurons, where he remained four years, 
at the end of which he received his pay, according to 
the journal of the Jesuits, — twenty crowns and his cloth- 
ing. But the knowledge of Indian dialects and charac- 
teristics, and of the physical, moral, and commercial 
features of the country during this term of service, fur- 
nished the capital out of which he drew his prosperous 

Le Moyne passed on to Trois Rivieres in the multiple 
capacity of trader, soldier, and interpreter, — a combina- 
tion of sails which could not fail to catch some breeze of 
fortune. The following year he entered into the service 
of the Soci6t6 de Ville Marie on the then exposed and 


frontier site of the present Montreal. His loyalty and 
courage, his skill and address in dealing with the Indians, 
his youth, strength, and spirit, are all faithfully transcribed 
by his patrons. He must indeed have soon made himself 
indispensable to the exalted pietists, who needed all the 
support of their visions and miracles to enable them to 
cope with such elements of evil as beset them round 
about in the bloodthirsty Iroquois and the hardly less 
cruel rigours of the Canadian climate. It is not surpris- 
ing that in their acute need for such a servitor they 
should attribute his presence among them to the direct 
interposition of Providence on their behalf But they 
did not limit their gratitude, nor remit Le Moyne's re- 
muneration, to Providence. However much his daring 
with the Indians had commended him to their revenges, 
and however thick the crowns of saints and martyrs fell 
about him, his mundane shrewdness enabled him to 
avoid them, while his thrift worked out his pecuniary 
profit. At the age of twenty-eight he found himself 
not only celebrated in his small world on account of his 
fights and treaties with the Indians, but in addition the 
possessor of money and the proprietor of a rich conces- 
sion, — consequently, in a position to marry. Such men 
marry well. 

Catherine Tierry was the adopted daughter of Antoine 
Primot and Marline Messier, a worthy and well-to-do 
couple of the diocese of Rouen, who, responding to the 
call of the time, determined to devote their lives to 
the work of Ville Marie. Being childless, they obtained 
the one-year-old babe from her parents, and fetched her 
across the ocean with them in 1642, — one year after the 
emigration of her future husband. 


The little one grew and throve in the desperate con- 
ditions about her; the crack of the gun, the terro"> of 
Indian warfare alternating, when there was an alterna- 
tion, only with the sound of the church-bell and the 
ascetic enjoyment of devotion. She acquired the edu- 
cational necessities of the period, and expanded into 
such virtue and modesty, according to the chronicle, 
such beauty of person and character, and such rich re- 
ligious development, as made her at fourteen the most 
promising wife and mother in the settlement. Le Moyne 
asked her in marriage ; and in order, the chronicle says, 
to secure the preference over any other wooer, contracted 
by notarial act, dated Dec. lo, 1653, to marry her 
shortly after that date, putting up six huncked livres as 
forfeit-money. The adopted parents, no less anxious to 
secure so advantageous a son-in-law, guaranteed their 
good faith by a like amount. Monsieur Maisonneuve 
and Mademoiselle Mance, the spiritual father and mother 
of the settlement, signed their names, with other wit- 
nesses, to the paper. Events justified the estimation 
of all parties and the importance to the settlement 
of the event. The marriage was duly celebrated during 
the next six months ; it is recorded in the registry of 
the church of Notre-Dame, Montreal. A marriage so 
creditable to their nascent city received more than verbal 
approbation from the seigneurs of Ville Marie. Mon- 
sieur de Maisonneuve in their name presented the newly 
wedded ones with a concession of ninety arpents of land, 
between the St. Lawrence and Jean Saint-Pere rivers, 
comprising Pointe Saint-Charles, — so named henceforth 
for Le Moyne. 

The chronicle now proceeds, in a double column, to 


itemize the ever-ascending account of financial and 
domestic prosperity. A few years after tiie marriage, 
the concession of the present seat of the family was 
obtained. It was erected into a seigneury, and named 
Longueuil from the arrondissement in Normandy in 
which Dieppe stood, and in 1676 the letters of no- 
bility were granted which made Charles Le Moyne Sieur 
de Longueuil. 

None the less, soivlier, trader, and interpreter, he ex 
tended the range of his activities and services from 
Ville Marie to the whole of Canada ; and while figuring 
in every account of the Indian fights, treaties, and expe- 
ditions of the time, — wounded and captured also once, — 
he continued his shrewd financial ventures and acquisi- 
tions of land, accumulating that provision of fiefs and 
dowers which his ambition and foresight deemed neces- 
sary for his sons and daughters, — an ever-increasing list ; 
Dame Catherine keeping up her ta^Iy well, of wife and 
mother, as she had promised. 

Le Moyne died in 1685. His wife, bravely carrying 
on his business after him, survived him but five years. 
The inventory of the estate was princely for the period 
and place, — domains, silver, and commercial establish- 
ments. But it is not this, nor his title of nobility, that 
makes the Dieppe tavern-keeper's son important or 
interesting to us, it is that tally, the keeping of which 
was confided to Dame Catherine, — the list of sons 
and daughters, of whom it may be said, with a re- 
trospective view of their good parental equipment of 
strength, sense, and effectiveness, that no marriage 
ever contracted within her limits had ever been so 
profitable to Canada as that of Charles Le Moyne and 


Catherine Primot. Of the twelve sons, nine live distin- 
guished in history, three were killed on the field of battle, 
and three became governors of cities or provinces. Their 
names are as follows : Charles, Sieur de Longueuil ; 
Jacques, Sieur de SainteHdlene ; Pierre, Sieur d'lber- 
ville ; Paul, Sieur de Maricourt ; Frangois, Sieur de 
Bienville I.; Joseph, Sieur de Serigny; Louis, Sieur de 
Chateauguay I.; Jean Baptiste, Sieur de Bienville II.; 
Antoine, Sieur de Chateauguay II. ; Francois Marie, 
Sieur de Sauvole. There were two daughters. Cathe- 
rine Jeanne married Pierre Pflyen, Seigneur of Noya,H, 
of the noble house of Chavuy, captain of marines and 
Chevalier of Saint Louis. She was the mother of the De 
Noyaus whose connection with their uncle De Bienville, 
and whose fortunes and misfortunes in Louisiana, are still 
the subject of local romance there. Marie Anne married 
the Sieur de la Chassaigne, captain in the marine, Cheva- 
lier of Saint Louis, and afterwards governor of Trois 

The subject of our biography, as has been seen, was 
but five years old when he lost his father ; at ten he was 
completely orphaned. There are no childhood records 
of these men. Their history begins with their fighting 
majority, which they fixed themselves according to 
their spirit and their physical endowment ; before this 
period it is a mere matter of dates. De Bienville him- 
self says^ that the only father he ever knew was his 
eldest brother, Charles, Sieur and later Baron of Lon- 
gueuil, with whom he presumably lived before, and cer- 
tainly after, their mother's death in 1690. 

1 Letter to the Baron de Longueuil, dated Louisiana, 2d Oct., 
1713 (Histoirede Longueuil). This letter is given in full later. 


This was the year in which the great fortress-chateau 
of Longueuil was finished, — the refuge and wonder of 
statelincss for the country round ; built all in brick and 
masonry, with walls and towers, guard-rooms and bar- 
racks, handsome church, farmyard, stables, sheepfolds, 
dovecotes, et3., decorated with all the insignia of no- 
bility, as enumerated in the k Uer of Louis XIV. which 
conferred the title of baron on the possessor. Elevated 
by all the height of one generation above the humble 
class from which his father sprang, the second Sieur de 
Longueuil lived up to all the honours and duties of his 
position with the thoroughness of a descendant of the 
Crusaders. Not in the rough wars of Canada, but in the 
elegant campaign of Flanders, did he serve his appren- 
ticeship as page of the Mardchal d'Humibres. He had 
not only been to the court of the Great Monarch, but 
with his Indian attendant had figured there, as related 
by the Duchess of Orleans in one of her letters to her 
sister, the Countess Palatine Louise ; and he married 
no bourgeoise like his mother, but the daughter of 
a nobleman. Mademoiselle Claude Elizabeth Souart 
d'Adancourt, lady to her Royal Highness of Orleans 

It is unmistakably to this house and to these surround- 
ings that Louisiana is indebted for that " tenue de grand 
seigneur " of her young Canadian governor which, how- 
ever aggravating to his enemies, yet throws a quaint 
picturesqueness over his ambitions and character, — a 
picturesqueness kept fresh in the city he founded by 
occasional haphazards, bits of faded splendour belonging 
once to the Hotel de Bienville, and by many a recorded 
ceremonial function and many a rhetorical phrase still 


dimly brilliant in the dusty pages of official documents 
and private relations of the lime. 

In 1 69 1, at the age of twenty-five, he was killed, 
gallantly fighting at Repentigny. The eleven-year-old 
Jean Baptiste was invested with the vacated title, — an 
investiture which comprised only the title, to judge 
from the stray remarks made from time to time by the 
inheritor of it. De Bienville, as he is henceforth 
called, intended to pursue his career upon the sea, 
following the example of his brothers D'lberville and 
De Serigny, who were proving to the world that the 
Canadians were indomitable coureurs de mer as well 
as coureurs de bois. At seventeen he is mentioned as 
garde-marin, or midshipman, at Brest "'^d at Roche- 
fort, whence he must have sailed with ' erigny's squad- 
ron, which carried to Iberville, then at Placentia, the 
orders and the reinforcements necessary to proceed 
once more against the English establishments of Hud- 
son Bay. He says he served at the side of Iberville 
on this expedition. It is an expedition which French 
and Canadian historians love to recall, — a titanesque 
affair, where, amid all the grim terrors of the Polar 
regions, after fighting for three weeks with icebergs, 
separated from his fleet, the Canadian commander met, 
single-handed, three English vessels, out-sailed and out- 
manoeuvred them, sank one, captured the other, and 
put the third to flight. Driven on the coast and ship- 
wrecked by a tempest during the night, he saved him- 
self, crew, and ammunition, but no provisions ; the nearest 
lay under the English flag at Fort Bourbon. Starting 
out on foot to capture them, his belated fleet arrives, all 
proceed together to the fort, the English capitulate, and 


once more the French flag takes temporary possession of 
the disputed region. 

Bienville accompanied Iberville to France. While the 
latter was discharging his scurvy-stricken crew into the 
hospital of Port Louis, he was sent for by Maurepas ; 
the commission to discover and t-ke possession of the 
mouth of the Mississippi was offered him. He accepted 
it as summarily as it was offered. 



There was no time to lose. The sharp eyes of the 
English were also turned towards the mouth of the Mis- 
sissippi. The pence of Ryswick, which had liberated 
French enterprise, liberated theirs no less, and they 
were as eager to profit by the streak of calm which fell 
over European politics as their rivals over the Channel. 
A company had already been formed in London for 
the establishment of a colonial and trading post upon 
the banks of the great river; English vessels, loaded 
with Huguenot emigrants, it was confidently reported to 
Iberville, were on the point of sailing to take possession. 
The geographical prize was evidently to be to the swift. 
Minister and commander worked with a will. Orders 
from the former quickly followed, where they did not 
precede, requisitions from the latter. Two small frigates, 
the " Badine " and the " Marin," were overhauled, 
chartered, and refitted. Two of the stout Norman fish- 
ing-boats, called traversiers, were secured as transports. 
Crews were selected, and supernumeraries added by 
Iberville himself, — Canadians whom he knew, fili- 
busters, Spanish deserters from Mexico, and Spanish- 
speaking Frenchmen. The usual stock-in-trade for In- 
dian presents and barter, the provisions, the arms and 
ammunition, were all passed under the same keen eye, 
which could never tolerate the unforeseen in its horizon. 


He made his preparall'^ns not only to arrive first at the 
goal, but to fight for it, should he come in second, and 
in either case to secure it and maintain it against all 
contestants. The expedition, thus fully and surely 
equipped, sailed from Brest on Friday, the 24th of Oc- 
tober, 1698, at seven o'clock in the morning, Iberville 
leading, in the "Badine," the Comte de Surgferes fol- 
lowing in the " Marin ; " the heavily freighted, slower- 
sailing traversers lagging behind. 

The voyage over the ocean was uneventful, except 
for the disappearance of one of the iraversiers dur- 
ing a squall off Madeira. After a short search it was 
abandoned as lost, and the squadron continued with- 
out it. In less than six weeks the vessels anchored off 
Cape Francois, St. Domingo. Here the forced calm of 
the voyage was replaced by a bustling activity. Flour 
was made into biscuits, the casks were refilled with 
water, and one of the long-boats was taken out of 
frame and mounted. 

The corvette " Frangois," commanded by the Mar- 
quis de Chateaubriand, nephew of the great Tourville, 
reported now to Iberville for escort duty, according to 
the orders of the Minister of Marine; and the lost 
transport made her appearance, belated, but not other- 
wise injured from the squall. 

During their short sojourn on land the crew paid the 
usual penalty of mortality to the heat, eathig impru- 
dences, and the deadly fever, there called Siam fever, 
which, Iberville wrote to the Minister of Marine, seemed 
to have a particular grudge against the Canadians and 
scriveners. The ranks were replenished, however, with 
filibusters, — a class of men (tropical Canadians they 


might be called) to whom Iberville ever showed a 
strong inclination, and one well fitted for the enter- 
prise in view. 

Four English vessels had been observed cruising 
around. Prepossessed with the idea that they were on 
the same quest as he, Iberville pressed his provision- 
ment to a rapid finish; and on the first day of 1699, 
the signals were flown from the " Badinc " for the new 

Favoured by good weather^ but with the pestilential 
fever still aboard, the squadron made its way along the 
coast of Cuba, safely doubled Cape Corriente, gained 
the channel of Yucatan, and passing between Cape St. 
Antoine and Cape Catoche, dropped into the Gulf of 

As a general guide over the waters which had been 
the field of his career for twenty years, the governor of 
St. Domingo furnished Iberville with Laurent de Graff, 
one of the most noted filibusters of his time, one of 
the leaders in the celebrated expedition which had once 
taken Vera Cruz and held it for ransom. 

By his advice Iberville directed the course of the 
squadron towards a fine harbour, discovered by a fili- 
buster captain upon a time when, making for St. 
Domingo, he had been driven into the Gulf by contrary 
winds, — a harbour where the Spaniards were in the habit 
of going for masts, and which, it was rumoured, had 
been recently taken possession of by them, to prevent 
any other nation from establishing itself there. 

According to Iberville's and his officers' calculations, 
this harbour should be found almost due north from 
where their vessels entered the Gulf, on the coast of 


Florida, somewhere between the river marked on their 
map as the Indias, and the Cabo de Sodo (Mobile 
Point), or about fifty miles west of the old Spanish pos- 
session of Apalache Bay, and about the same distance 
west of Mobile Bay. Iberville decided to look for the 
Mississippi in exactly the same location of the Espiritu 
Santo upon the early maps, and no doubt upon the two 
in his possession. 

The ships sailed cautiously along, feeling their way 
with the lead, keeping a sharp lookout for the squalls — 
which, according to Spanish descriptions, make a hell of 
the Gulf of Mexico — and for the suspicious English 
vessels, experiencing nothing more disturbing than calms 
and sudden veerings of the wind, and seeing nothing 
more alarming than the flying-fish, the porpoises sporting 
with the ships under the beautiful blue waters, or the 
gulls foraging over the surface of them. 

The officers took observations and compared notes, 
the men fished, the frigates heaving to from time to time 
for the lagging transports to catch up, and all lying by 
at sunset for the night. The afternoon of the twenty- 
third day, as the " Badine " was casting anchor for the 
night, land was sighted in the northeast. Iberville 
shouted to Surg^res, on the " Marin," to crowd all sail 
towards it until sunset. At night the red glare of flames 
could be distinctly seen in that quarter, — prairies, the 
Canadians surmised, fired by Indians after buffalo. A 
long, low, half-inundated streak of land, running east and 
west, came into view with daylight. Nearer approach 
revealed shores of glistening white sand, a line of forest, 
a moderately sized stream, and behind all, far inland, 
the prairies still smoking from the night's conflagration. 


The steering had been true to the point ; the fleet lay 
al)out south of Apalachicola Bay. The vessels an- 
chored for the night off Cape San Bias, firing cannon, 
to attract the attention of any savages thereabouts. 

With the morning, a systematic inspection of the coast- 
line was organized ; Lescalette, the lieutenant of the 
*' Badine," rowing in a barge close in, sounding and ex- 
ploring every opening that presented itself, the frigates 
following as near in as their draughts permitted, the 
corvette remaining well out to sea. 

The river marked on their map as the Indios was 
passed, and league after league slowly told off in the 
course westward, until Lescalette signalled, not only the 
discovery of the mouth of a river, but the portentous 
fact that there were masts of vessels in it. The French 
officers in haste assembled for council on board the 
man-of-war, whose guns, at the request of Iberville, gave 
the signal to anchor for the night. The frigates and 
transports, as usual, answered with volleys of musketry. 
The vessels in the distant port fired off their guns also, 
— a defiant menace it sounded to the French. Then a 
fog fell, and for hours both fleets were insulated in a 
common cloud of ignorance and disquietude. When it 
lifted, a white flag was seen flying from one of the masts 
in the harbour, out of which a sloop advanced half way 
towards the French, paused until they raised their 
colours, then returned. The Marquis de Chasteaumorant, 
elaborate in deferential politeness, and minute in his deli- 
cate regard for the susceptibilities of his Canadian com- 
mander, had omitted his pennant, and all marks of his 
superior rank from the " Francois." But as the " Fran- 
cois " was the largest and best-armed vessel in the squad- 


ron, and as the ships in the unknown harbour miglit 
be the English, Iberville requested the royal commander 
to display his colours again, which he did, thus assuming 
the role of commander-in-chief, for the nonce, of the 

By daylight, Iberville sent Lescalette ashore to find out 
the name and nationality of the establishment, with careful 
instructions, however, not to reveal the destination or 
designs of the French. In order to furnish an excuse to 
enter the harbour, he was to represent that they were in 
need of wood and water, that the frigates were in search 
of a large body of Canadians reported to be on that 
coast, to whom they were conveying the king's order to 
return. The transports were to play the role of free- 
booters captured by the French, the corvette was to be 
accounted for as having joined them at St. Domingo 
upon the rumour that a pirate vessel of fifty or sixty guns 
was cruising about those waters. 

And now the name of the young De Bienville is for- 
mally introduced into history by the three relations of the 
expedition. " My brother De Bienville," and " the young 
brother of M. d' Iberville," is henceforward generally well 
in front when there is a boat to be manned, a message 
taken, or an adventure attempted. He was sent with 
Lescalette to remain in the boat and prevent the crew 
having any communication with the garrison on land. 
They made their way without difficulty past the sentinel, 
although the orders were to let no strangers into the 
harbour. Lescalette landed, and was conducted to the 
major in command. During his absence, De Bienville, 
passing himself off as his valet, and speaking English, 
obtained from a Bayonnais such various informal items 


as he judged might complete, establish, or refute official 
statements. Iberville received, on their return, a full 
budget from both. 

The harbour was Santa Maria de Galvez de Pensacola. 
The Spaniards had been in possession but four months. 
The commandant was Don Andres de la Riola. The 
garrison consisted of about three hundred, the greater 
number galley-slaves and fellows picked up any way, 
from anywhere, — most of them at the time in irons. 
The frigates in the harbour, one of eighteen, the other 
of twenty guns, had fetched the colonists there, and 
were now ready to return to Vera Cruz, loaded with 
masts. They had taken the French scpadron for the 
long-expected armadillo from Vera Cruz, and so had 
fired off their guns in salute of welcome. The country 
was miserable, the men were mutinous, and the officers 
dissatisfied. The entire establishment consisted of but 
shelters for the garrison, and a half-finished stockade 
fort on the left side of the mouth of the river. 

A Spanish officer accompanied Lescalette on his 
return, the half-finished stockade fort firing a salute as 
they passed. Chasteaumorant, still acting the rdle of 
commander-in-chief, received the Spanish messenger, 
who brought the regrets of his commander that the 
French fleet could not be allowed to enter the har- 
bour, as his establishment was a new and feeble one, but 
offering to have wood and water conveyed to them by 
his men and boats. As for refreshments, he was in 
greater lack of them than the French, being entirely 
dependent on Vera Cruz for them. He sent some pres- 
ent to the French commander, which Chasteaumorant 
returned with a demi-john of wine. 



During their officer's absence the Spanish crew 
availed themselves of the opportunity to beg of the 
French the charity of some biscuit, as they were, they 
said, starving. They professed themselves anxious to 
serve the French king, and offered to desert to Chasteau- 
morant. He had food distributed to them, but warned 
them if they deserted he should be forced to return them 
to the Spanish authorities. He notes in his journal that 
judging by the way the Spanish officers ate when they 
dined with him, the story of their lack of food must be 

Their first pretext having failed, Chasteaumorant, in 
concert with, or more likely at the instigation of, Iber- 
ville, now wrote to Don Andres de la Riola that not con- 
sidering the king's ships to be in safety where they were, 
he shov.ld proceed the next morning to sound the en- 
trance to the harbour, so that he might know it, in case 
he should be forced to seek shelter there from a south 
wind. This was in fact thoroughly accomplished at day- 
light the next morning by Iberville, Surgeres, and De 
Graff, who sounded up to the very frigates at anchor, be- 
fore a note from the Spanish commander arrived, beg- 
ging them to retire immediately, sending his own pilot 
to remain with them during their stay, and in emergency, 
to guide them into a place of safety, — any place on the 
coast was free to them except Pensacola. The French 
had their anchors raised ready to make the entrance, 
but they concluded instead, with reluctance, to relieve 
their anxious hosts and continue their voyage westward. 

The beauty of the harbour, which was pronounced 
superior to Brest, the abundant forests of mast-timber, — 
*' enough," writes Surgeres, " to furnish the whole of 


France," -and the weakness and timidity of the Spanish 
garrison, rendered the temptation most seductive ; and 
the French commanders looked upon their decision as a 
most heroic piece of renunciation in favour of interna- 
tional good-will. As Chasteaumorant remarks regret- 
fully, he could have driven the Spaniards out and 
secured the harbour very cheaply. 

At the instance of the prudent Iberville, the marquis 
wrote once again to Don Andres, reiterating Lescalette's 
fiction about the object of the expedition. As for the 
real end of it, much additional general and confirma- 
tive information concerning it had been acquired dur- 
ing the hospitalities extended to the Spanish officers 
and the captains of the Spanish frigates. Don Andres' 
pilot especially, whom Chasteaumorant kept with] him 
until the moment of sailing, gave instructions about the 
soundings, islands, and banks along the coast, which 
proved correct and valuable. All agreed that no Eng- 
lish vessels had been seen anywhere about there. 
VVhereunon, for the second time during the voyage, 
Chasteaumorant offered to relieve Iberville of his appa- 
rently unnecessary escort. The latter, however, as cour- 
teously declined being relieved, insisting that there might 
still be need for the corvette. According to his instruc- 
tions from the Minister of Marine, Chasteaumorant had 
to continue with Iberville until dismissed in due form, 
— a condition imposed upon the minister by Iberville 
himself, mindful of his predecessor's, the unfortunate 
La Salle's experience with his royal escort. 

Stopping of nights and during fogs, it took the squad- 
ron two days to arrive opposite the thin strip of land 
which half encloses Mobile Bay on the south. 


Here they dropped anchor, and, with their usual 
methodical alacrity, set about taking observations and 
soundings ; and here they experienced their first 
bad weather. Shifting gales, torrents of rain, terrific 
thunder and lightning, and violent seas, more than 
made good the evil characterization of the region by 
the Spaniards. The " Francois " put out to sea, the 
frigates withdrew from the coast, and one of the trans- 
ports stranded (recovering at change of tide, however). 
The reconnoitring open boats returned from the channel 
with such unsatisfactory and contradictory accounts of 
the depth that Iberville determined to investigate it for 
himself. Taking with him his young brother, he was 
rowed by his Canadians to the point of the encircling 
strip of land, where he passed the night, to be on 
the spot to begin his task with the day. The storm 
broke over them here, raging with great violence. 
Daylight brought a lull which permitted them to 
sound and mark as far as the channel. Again the 
wind arose and the rain-floods descended; the thick 
mist shut off from them the light of their vessels. The 
rowers spent themselves in vain to make headway over 
the billows ; they were forced to turn about and run 
mto the nearest land, which they reached so weak and 
exhausted from their efforts that they could barely 
make a fire to dry themselves. Weatherbound here for 
three days, they had ample leisure to examine the narrow 
limits of their refuge, — a small island rising between 
the Gulf and the bay, about twelve miles long and one 
and a half broad at its widest. At the southwestern 
end a hideous heap of skulls and bones bore ghastly 
witness to some barbarity of Indian warfare, and not of 


ancient date, as testified by the comparative preservation 
of the bones and freshness of the domestic utensils 
scattered around. The brothers named the place, from 
this event, Massacre Island. During their enforced 
sojourn here, the Canadians hunted, killing ducks, bus- 
tards, and wild cats. Iberville, making his way over 
to the mainland, about ten miles off, followed the 
shore-line some distance ; when, landing, he cUmbed to 
the top of a white-oak-tree and studied what his eye 
could reach of the scene around him, — a rugged forest- 
line, running beyond him still for ten or twelve miles 
north, where it seemed to form a cape turning west- 
ward ; the eastern bank of what, from the yellowish 
colour of the waters, he judged to be a river discharging 
itself into the bay; oak, elm, birch, pine, walnut, 
chestnut, ash, and other trees unknown to him, rising 
in the forest around him. The land was high ; above 
inundation the soil bore quantities of vines and flowers, 
fragrant violets, novel yellow blossoms, and wild peas 
like those in St. Domingo. Proceeding still on foot, 
signs of Indian habitatioi,, presented themselves,— 
cabins, pieces of cooking utensils, remnants and ves- 
tiges not a week old ; presumably the encampment 
of some tribe on a seasonal visit to the Gulf shore for 

Before embarking for his island again, Iberville fired 
off his gun several times, and cut into the bark of a 
tree the fact and meaning of his presence there, — that 
he had come thither in three ships, fetching with him a 
calumet of peace. 

Fine weather ai last decbred itself. The sounding 
of the channel was completed, and the retarded boats 


returned to the ships, loaded with wood and with grass 
for the Hve-stock. At midday, under a light north wind, 
in the serene, exhilarating weather that such a wind 
brings to this region after a storm, the Httle fleet set sail 
again for the next station marked on the map, — which 
was no less than the Mississippi itself. 

Mobile Point and Massacre Island diminished and 
disappeared behind them ; before them, in the north- 
west and north-northwest, two other islands came into 
view, — mere specks of white sand, supporting a few 
trees, in the dancing, twinkling blue waters. Suddenly 
the fair wind changed to a shifting south, — the storm- 
wind of the Gulf. The wish to find a harbour becomes 
an anxiety, a pressing necessity ; glasses are turned from 
the heavens to the Gulf north and west for the coast- 
line which should appear, but did not. 

Bienville and Lescalette were sent to look for an 
anchorage around the western end of the island to the 
north of them, — marked on the early maps He k 
Bienville, but from a sailor's losing his horn there in 
an after expedition, Horn Island, — but they were 
picked up the next day, tacking to get to windward of 
the island, after a fruitless search. 

Other islands rose into view as they continued to 
sail westward, one in the west, and one in the south, — 
a mere sandy surface, without a tree. To get shelter 
from the wind, the ships anchored to the north of this 
last. It was named Chandeleur, from the recent feast 
of Candlemas. 

Surgeres, with his ensign, Sauvole, and Bienville were 
sent in a Biscayen to seek for a pass around the little 
island to the north, — now Ship Island ; then named or 


marked on the early maps He ll Surgeres, or lie Lesca- 
lette. The felucca was also sent to reconnoitre around 
the dot of an islet to the west of it. It returned, bring- 
ing reports only of the quantities of curious little animals, 
resembling cats, found upon it. Of course they named 
it Cat Island ; but the cats were in reality racoons. 

The weather, despite apprehensions, remained fine ; 
the ships rode at anchor all day, the men making 
astonishing catches of fish, and watching the innumer- 
able flocks of wild duck and geese passing over- 

At eight o'clock at night was heard the welcome 
voice of Bienville in his Biscayen, going from ship to 
ship, to communicate the good tidings that the sought- 
for anchorage had been found. 

In the first light of the slow dawning February morn- 
ing the " Badine " flew the signal ; and had there been 
any one there to witness it, — some wonder-stricken 
aboriginal, standing on the distant mainland and look- 
ing south, as, ray by ray, the sun drove the mist from 
the horizon, — white sails might have been seen to 
rise from the green, gray expanse, to widen, advance, 
converge, and file through the pretty opening between 
the two fragile, floating-looking islands ; and just where 
the eye is accustomed now to see the clustering of 
masts around the Government station, Iberville's fleet 
might have been seen to hover, drop anchor, and furl 
sail, — at last as safe as though in the envied Pensacola 



It was a harbour in which the French officers exult- 
ingly proclaimed they could find a shelter from every 
wind that bkw. 

The live-stock was landed/ tents were erected, and 
the rest of the long-boats taken out of frame and set up. 
The crews dispersed themselves enthusiastically over 
their glad possession, limited as it was in area ; and their 
exuberant indulgence in fish and bathing failed not to 
produce a prompt response in the shape of a mild epi- 
demic. It was, in truth, an arid resting-place enough, — 
a mere strip of shifting white sand piled according to 
the fantasy of the last gale ; with a sparse wood at one 
extremity, and only grass enough to serve as ambush for 
that pestiferous torment of the feet, the needle-pointed 
burrs called "rocachats." Over one beach dash the 
green, transparent billows from the Gulf, flashing their 
captive fish like spangles in the sunlight. Along the 
other, — the island has but two beaches, seamed together 
with a ridge of sand, — along the other, the blue waters of 
the Sound reveal their calm, transparent depths of beauty, 
their strange poetic growths of shell and weed, and 

^ The swine must have been put upon Cat Island ; for memo- 
rials a few years later relate that the hogs upon Cat Island had 
destroyed all the " cats," and had become so numerous that they 
preyed upon each other. 


clusters of iris-hued anemones, their browsing, lurking, 
playing silver-fish, and brilliant darting crabs. 

But despite its relief to Iberville, its harbourage bless- 
ing, its glorious phantasms of cloud and sea colouring, 
the little island has furnished but joyless scenes to his- 
tory. Sun-baked, wind-swept, storm-driven, with a glare 
that sears the human eye to certain blindness, the In- 
dians shunned it, the French learned to loathe it ; once 
a place of most cruel imprisonment to thousands of un- 
fortunate captives, from which hearts turned with horror, 
it is now serving as a national harbour, but a post of 
most wearisome residence to the Federal officials. 

In sight of the mainland, with his squadron in secu- 
rity, and the Mississippi, according to his calculations, 
within reach of his open boats, and finally — and most 
potent reason — freed from all apprehensions of the Eng- 
lish, Iberville felt that he might safely dismiss Chasteau- 
morant. The marquis, dining with him on the " Badine," 
was therefore courteously informed that whenever it was 
his pleasure to return to St. Domingo, he was at liberty 
to do so. The actual departure of the " Francois," how- 
ever, did not take place for several days, during which 
the hospitalities and social amenities of the two com- 
manders continue to throw a pleasant and genial glow 
over their official relations. 

Moving figures of men could be made out on the dis- 
tant shore, and at night the light of camp-fires shone on 
wlvit appeared to be the end of an island lying close to 
land. Iberville lost no time in making his investigation, 
determined to make friends with the Indians, who, as 
he had understood at Pensacola, entertained a horror of 
the Spaniards. He took Father Anasthase Douay, a 


former companion of La Salle, with him in his Biscayen. 
Bienville and two Canadians followed in canoes. It was 
a distance of about twenty miles to the land. Disem- 
barking, Iberville and the priest found the fresh trail of 
the Indians seen from the ships. They pursued it. 
Bienville and the Canadians paddled along close to the 
shore in the shallow water; the Biscayen followed in 
the distance. Night overtook them after ten miles, and 
they camped where they were. In the early morning 
they espied the lurking forms of Indians watching them 
from afar. Leaving behind at their camp some hatchets, 
knives, beads, and vermilion as a bait, and also as tes- 
timonials of his good-will, Iberville and his party pursued 
the trail they were on. It led them, after a few miles, 
near enough to the little island for them to distinguish 
canoes filled with Indians crossing between it and the 
mainland (Deer Island, named for the game found on 
it, and Biloxi). Bienville in his canoe immediately 
started towards them. The Indians, taking — Iberville 
writes — the Frenchmen for Spaniards, fled in terror ; 
leaping to the land, running into the forest, abandoning 
their canoes and all that they contained. The Cana- 
dians tried in vain to head them off or arrest them by 
their friendly cries. They came upon one poor crea- 
ture unable to escape, — an old man lame from a putre- 
fying wound in the leg. The Canadians made signs to 
him of their friendly intentions. He responded with 
signs also that he was suffering cold and great pain, and 
petitioned to be carried ashore. This his captors will- 
ingly did, making besides a fire for him, wrapping him 
in a coverlet, and building a shelter over him. They 
also gave him food and tobacco, drew his canoe upon 


the beach in sight, placed his sacks of corn round him, 
and withdrew, making him understand that they were 
going to pass the night at some distance from him. 

In the mean time Bienville, with two Canadians, had 
been sent into the forest in chase of the fugitives. They 
returned with an old woman found hiding. She was in 
great terror, snys Surg^res, thinking that her last hour 
had come. But her trepidation was allayed by friendly 
signs and a present of enough tobacco for herself and 
her whole family. She was conducted to the old man, 
and made to see the evidences of the good will and 
generosity shown him by the strangers, who still further 
proved their kindness by leaving the two old creatures 
by themselves together. 

As Iberville anticipated, the woman slipped away 
during the night, carrying her present and the recital of 
her experiences to her people. As for the poor old 
man, he had fared hardly ; the grass around him had 
caught on fire, and he had with difficulty saved himself 
from being burned alive. The Canadians extinguished 
the flames and laid him on a bearskin, where he expired 
a half hour afterwards. 

The results of the old woman's good offices were soon 
seen, or rather heard. The unmistakable sounds of 
Indian vocalization were heard approaching through 
the woods. But timidity, apparently, or distrust took 
possession of the singers, who would not venture from 
behind the trees. The eager Frenchmen waited im- 
patiently and in vain for the embassy, and finally returned 
to their camp. Some Canadians, hunting in the woods, 
later met the still hesitating Indians, and reassured them 
into resuming their procession and calumet chant. 


Il)crville received Ihem with their own expressive greet- 
ing of endearment, — a gentle rubbing of the stomach, — 
distributed presents among them, conducted them to 
their abandoned canoes of the day before, showed them 
their corn intact, and rtnally feasted them on sagamity. 
The good cheer enticed other laggards and spies from 
the woods, and good fellowship was not long in estab- 
lishing itself. Two old women were immediately put to 
pounding corn for the return feast, given promptly by 
the Indians. All the whites and reds were smoking 
together afterwards, the Indians calling their guests 
allies, and teaching them words of their dialect. Night 
separated them ; each race going to its own encamp- 
ment, several miles apart. The next morning, however, 
when, in pursuance of their good fellowship, the Cana- 
dians sought the camp of their friends, struggling pain- 
fully through swamp and thicket to get there, they found 
but ten clouted warriors, warned by the signal shot of 
the Canadian scout, waiting for them, arms in hand. 
The rest of the tribe had all departed, prudently taking 
their canoes and corn with them. 

Iberville complains in his journal that notwithstanding 
he never smoked, he had to smoke all over again with 
them. More presents were distributed among them, and 
Iberville was able to persuade three of them to accom- 
pany him to his ship, leaving Bienville and two Canadians 
behind as hostages. The weather was very beautiful, and 
a quick sail was made to the ships at anchor. The chief, 
standing in the Biscayen, intoned his chant of peace as 
they approached. On board, the savages were regaled 
with all that their experienced hosts could suggest for 
their beguilement. Presents were made them, the shij^s 


were put through their manoeuvres, cannon were fired 
ofT, and spy-glasses held to their eyes, — the last the 
strangest wonder of all to thcin, they could see so far off 
with one eye, and so near with the other at the same 
time ! French brandy, burning in their stomachs so 
long after it was swallowed, also greatly astonished them. 
Chasteaumorant writes that they were well-made, robust 
men ; that he made them several questions by signs, 
but that they answered, like veritable hogs, with grunts. 
They belonged to the Annochy and Moctohy tribes. 
They described their village, and the neighbouring vil- 
lage of Chozetta, as being not more than three days' 
journey from the ships, on the banks of the Pascagoula 
River, which they assured Iberville was four fathoms 
deep, begging him to fetch his ships into it. 

Iberville could find out from them nothing about the 
Mississippi. Of the Indian tribes mentioned in the 
Tonty and Hennepin Relations of La Salle's voyage down 
the Mississippi, he could get no trace, with the exception 
of the Nipissas, whom he identified with the Quinipissas, 
— • located, however, by the Relations twenty-five miles 
up the river, while these Indians placed them only nine 
miles away. 

Iberville returned with his savages to the mainland, 
where he found Bienville feasting, smoking, and other- 
wise making himself agreeable to some newly arrived 
guests. These were, indeed, of importance. They were 
a chief and warriors of the Mongoulachas and Baya- 
goulas tribes, who lived on the banks of the Mississippi 
itself. On a hunting expedition they had heard the 
sound of the cannon, and had come to see the cause 
of it. They lavished compliments and caresses on the 


young Bienville, asking him if he had come there in the 
bark canoe they saw, and if he belonged to the people 
up above the Mississippi, which they called the Malbou- 
chia. The chief advanced to meet Iberville, with all the 
dignity and ceremony of his rank and people, passing his 
hand over the commander's stomach and raising his eyes 
to heaven, which demonstrations, Iberville writes, were 
punctiliously returned. When similar protestations and 
attestations hc.d been indulged in by all, they repaired to 
Bienville's tent. Here Iberville presented his calumet 
to them to smoke, — a most imposing pipe, made of iron 
in the shape of a ship, decorated with beads and flying the 
fleur de lys ; giving them also hatchets, knives, and other 
presents, that, as he told them, they and the French 
henceforth should be but one nation. A festal dish of 
sagamity, confected with prunes, was served, and brandy, 
which the Indians enjoyed burning rather than drinking. 

At night the Indians gave their feast, smoked and 
smoked their calumet, and made their presents of skins 
of the musk-rat, which, according to them, allied the 
French with the four nations west of the Mississippi, — 
the Mongoulacha, Ouacha, Tontymacha, and Lagnes- 
chieto ; and with the Biloxi, Moctohy, Houma, Pasca- 
goula, Sechluel, and Alnico, on the east of it. The 
feasting, singing, and dancing — Canadians no whit 
behind the Indians in the two latter — lasted until 

These Indians also gave Iberville to understand that 
they hated the Spaniards. They were at that time at 
war with the Quinipissas, who they knew had fought 
with La Salle. Among their allies, the Houmas and the 
Tangipahoas were both named in the Relations of La 


Salle's exploration of the Mississippi. Feeling the end 
of a guiding thread, indeed, in his hand, Iberville drew 
some maps to learn where that fork of the river was, 
through which the Relations avened the explorers had 
travelled to the Sound. The Indians seemed to indicate 
this to be the Pascagoula River; but reflection con- 
vinced Iberville that what they meant was that it was 
through that river they themselves reached streams that 
communicated with the Mississippi. 

Iberville proposed going directly to the mouth of the 
Pascagoula and sounding it, Bienville and three Cana- 
dians, with their canoes, remaining with the Indians. 

The chief, however, wished to continue his hunt after 
buffalo and wild turkey ; but he promised to return to 
the spot in four nights to meet the French, when he 
would share his game with them, and they would all 
have a feast and proceed together to the Mississippi. 
He would light a fire on the shore to signal his return ; 
Iberville was to answer with four cannon shot from his 
ship. Upon this they parted, the French turning their 
sloops and canoes in the direction of Pascagoula River. 
Contrary winds, however, prevented their making it. 
Judging from its size and appearance that it could not 
possibly have the depth of water described, at its mouth, 
Iberville, without further waste of time, put back, hoping 
to catch the Indians before they had started on their 
hunt, and persuade them to guide him at once to their 
branch of the Mississippi. But the Indians had de- 
parted, and their camp was deserted. Nothing remained 
for Iberville but to camp for the night where he was, and 
return the next morning to his ships and await the re- 
turn of his guides. Twelve hours later, — a day too soon 


for tlie appointment, — smoke was descried at the point 
of rendezvous. The four cannon shots were fired, and 
preparations immediately begun to fit the Biscayens with 
men, food, and ammunition for the exploration of the 
river. Iberville, Bienville, Surgeres, Lescalette, and all 
the Canadians of the " Badine " and " Marin " were of 
the party. Arrived at the place of meeting, not an Indian 
was to be seen, and the woods, having caught fire from 
the beacon, were all in flames. A stormy north wind 
the next day made navigation impossible. When it 
subsided, Bienville was sent in his canoe to search for 
news of the absentees. He returned with two men and 
two women, — one of the men an Annochy friend. He 
told Iberville that the Bayougoulas had gone home. 
They had stayed on their hunt only two nights after part- 
ing from the French. They had kindled the fires to 
show that they were leaving, being out of provisions, and 
with the wind favourable for reaching the 1 'albouchia. 
In other words, they had given him the sil^j. Sending 
a party to sound and explore the Pascagoula, Iberville 
returned to Ship Island, without a vestige left of any 
hope he may have founded on the Indians. 

Getting into the Mississippi by one of its outlets, fol- 
lowing it down to its mouth, fixing the exact locality of 
it, and then rejoining his vessels in the Gulf, would have 
been to Iberville a task of most easy and expeditious 
accomplishment. Thrown now upon his own resources, 
he pushed forward, with energies stimulated by his recent 
baffling, his original and more difficult plan. 

In less than twenty-four hours the new expedition was 
under way. The two barges, armed each with a swivel- 
gun, and with a canoe in tow, were equipped, with fifty 


Canadians, sailors, and filibusters, twenty-five days' provi- 
sions, and arms and ammunition not only for the voyage, 
but for the projected establishment at the mouth of the 
river, when found. Iberville took Bienville with him in 
one barge. Sauvole, the ensign of the " Marin," com- 
manded the other barge, having with him Anasthase 
Douay, the priest who, as the companion of La Salle 
and a former explorer of the river, was expected to 
establish its identity. 

Surgeres remained in command of the fleet at Ship 
Island, with permission, as he was short of provisions, 
to return to France in the " Marin," in six weeks, if 
Iberville had not returned. 

It was the morning of Friday, the 27th of February, 
they set out. The weather was unfavourable, the wind 
blowing from the southeast, with rain and fog. They 
sailed for some islands that appeared in the south. 
Running six leagues, the length of one of them, a low, 
flat, rush-covered surface, called by Iberville Sable, or 
Sand Island, they entered that terraqueous maze of the 
Delta through which the mind follows their adventures 
with admiring confusion. Islands, islets, sand-bars, 
reefs, points, bays, shallows, breakers, gravel-banks, 
and mud-heaps repeat themselves in Iberville's diary 
with a regularity which, however, cannot be called 

Despite the wind, the water presented a calm, un- 
ruflled surface, protected as it was by a continuous 
screen of islands rising in clusters, budding in long 
sprays, as it were, from the shallow bottoms, reaching 
from northeast to southwest. 

Beyond, far out in the open, the eye could touch the 



Chandeleurs ; and beyond them, from out the invisible, 
the ear could gather the roar of breakers over still other 

The mainland lay to their right, — a shelving strip of 
woodless sand, scooped, notched, and ragged, reaching 
out into the water. In order to pass no river it might 
hold, the barges kept it well in sight ; dragging at times 
laboriously over the shoaling bottom. They passed 
their night on the point of an island, inundated at high 
tide, like the rest. 

The next morning, a fog, through which they could not 
see, hid everything from them. The day was consumed, 
as one narrative says, in fending off the little islands that 
beset their way wherever they turned. They made a 
short halt for rest on ground so fragile that it trembled if 
a heavy object was dropped upon it; they tried the 
oysters here, but found them not so good as those in 
Europe. In the afternoon, while they were pitching 
their camp for the night, a dreadful storm broke over 
them, with deafening thunder-claps and blinding flashes 
of lightning, and a deluge of rain that lasted all night 
and prevented a tart in the morning. Suddenly the 
wind jumped to the northeast, and bore down upon 
them with freezing keenness. They had no wood ; tbey 
dug in vain in the sodden sand for drinking water. The 
water rose all around them, covering the island and 
their camp a half foot deep. They cut twigs and rushes, 
and raised a standing place, where, during the drenching 
downpour, they hung over a smouldering fire. And so 
their Sunday passed. 

On Monday they were able to make a start. The 
wind blew stiffly from the north. Running before it. 


they pushed alternately to the east and west, seeking 
some issue out of the maze that held them. Struggling 
around a point, they came in sight of the mainland 
again, still extending south-southeast before them ; and 
still they followed it. 

The unbridled wind had now free range at them. 
The raging seas broke over and over their open boats, 
badly weighted with the canoes which they had been 
forced to take aboard. They stretched their tarred can- 
vases, and held them down by main strength. At one 
moment they were running with the wind into land, 
fearing in the storm to pass the Mississippi by. At 
another, they were fighting with the wind to keep off the 
land against which it and the sea were driving them ; 
every gust threatening to beach them, every billow to 
swamp them. For three hours they battled for their 
lives off a cape whose jutting rocky points seemed to 
cut off all hopes of escape. Darkness was coming on. 
The irresistible fury of the gale showed no sign of 
abatement. There seemed no choice but that of per- 
ishing at sea, or perishing on shore during the night. 
Iberville seized the one mitigation of waning daylight 
for himself and his men. Sauvole saw him put his 
barge about, with the wind full astern, and drive her 
on the rocks. He followed, and the mouth of the 
Mississippi was discovered I 



The impregnable cape separated before them into 
little hillocks. The threatening rocks that seemed to 
have risen from the deep to aid the fury of a merciless 
gale, revealed themselves to be the simulations they 
were, — weird, jagged, fantastic, the outstretching limbs 
and branches of massed heaps of driftwood, cemented 
by slime and sediment, and hardened by the elements ; 
the huge forest wreckage which the serried currents of 
the mighty stream had borne down and tossed there, 
to picket its encroachments upon the Gulf; the far- 
famed, well-named Palissadoes, which had hitherto bar- 
ricaded entrance from the sea. A turbid volume of 
whitish waters charged through the openings, holding 
its way, unmixed, unmixing, far out through the clear 
green waters of the Gulf. The Frenchmen tasted it, — it 
was fresh, " and great consolation it gave them," Iber- 
ville says, " in the consternation they were in." The 
words of the great La Salle came back to him, — that he 
would recognize the waters of the Mississippi by their 
being whitish and thickish, and by their not mixing with 
the waters of the Gulf. 

Advancing into one of the three openings that offered, 
the boats were almost wrecked again in the surf which 
crested over a sand-bar, sighted too late. The stream be- 
came thicker and whiter, and the current so swift that even 


with the wind now in their favour, the sails could make 
poor headway. The sea tossed and foamed outside 
the two low smooth tongues of land, not a musket-shot 
from edge to edge, which banked the river from it ; not 
a tree, only grasses and rushes, the tenuous first growth 
of a recent soil, falling in heavy fringes over into the cur- 
rent, which stretched and pulled them along in its course. 
Then, by degrees, firmer ground and heavier growth. 
When the boats landed for a camp, the eye could not 
penetrate, nor the foot separate, the thick growths that 
confronted them. A space was cleared, fires were 
lighted, the frugal supper of porridge was cooked and 
eaten, and watches were set for the night; Ca.iadians 
and filibusters alternating with the sailors. 

His day's work over, the hardy leader gives a sigh of 
satisfaction. " We feel, stretched upon these rushes, shel- 
tered from the bad weather, all the pleasure there is in 
seeing one's self safe from an evident peril," exulting with 
robust virility : " C'est un mestier bien gaillard de des- 
couvrir les costes de la mer avec des chaloupes qui ne 
sont ny assez grandes pour tenir la mer soulz voiles, ny 
\ Tancre, et trop grandes pour donner k une coste plate, 
ou elles eschouent et touchent a demylieue au large." 
*' It is gallant enough work discovering the shores of 
the sea in barges not large enough to keep to sea with 
either sail or anchor, and too large to land on a flat 
coast, where they strand and touch a half league out." 

The next morning it was Mardi-Gras morning : they 
celel^rated mass, chanted the Te Deum, and for the 
third time a cross was raised * in that chaos of strug- 

^ The first time by La Salle, when he explored the river to its 
mouth ; the second time by Tonty, who journeyed to meet his 


gling land and water. The wind and rough water pre- 
vented soundings or explorations, which were deferred 
until the return trip, and perhaps a happier chance of 
weather. After breakfasting " very succinctly," the Re- 
lation says, — for either through prudential motives of 
economy, or from loss of provisions during the storm, 
Iberville had shortened the rations, — they took to their 
boats again, and steered up the river. 

It spread out before them into a broad expanse, from 
which two other issues, in the southeast and southwest, 
branched out towards the Gulf. Crossing the exposed 
space, a squall struck them, which dismasted one of 
the barges. It was forced to go into shore for repairs, 
at a spot where the men found quantities of almost ripe 

Above these branches, or passes, the river began to 
converge again, and the banks gradually to change their 
character. Sedges and rushes passed into cane and 
willows, which increased m height and sturdiness until 
they filled forests. Ducks, sarcelles, and bustards started 
from cover before them. They saw a stag wolf running 
along the bank, an opossum, and in the forests the 
Canadian hunters discoverer, abundant tracks of deer, 
goats, and wild beeves. 

Twelve leagues from its mouth, the river made a bend 
to the west. Here they stopped for tlie night. A little 
bayou ran near by ; they named it Mardi-Gras, for the 

old commander at the mouth of the river when the latter met 
the tragic end of his hopes in Matagorda Bay. Tonty found the 
original cross prone, naif buried in sediment. He erected it 
higher up the river, on firmer soil, as he supposed. Iberville 
found no traces of it. 


flay. The cannon were fired off, for the intelligence of 
any Indians within hearing. Iberville climbed to the 
top of a tree to spy out the country about him. Noth- 
ing but willows, canebrakes, and thickets were to be seen, 
over a flat land, that overflowed four feet deep in high 

If this was the Mississippi, according to the journals 
of the La Salle party given him for his guidance, Iber- 
ville should find, forty leagues up the river, on the left 
bank, the deserted village of the Tangipahoas, the cabins 
of which, in La Salle's time, were filled with corpses. 
Two leagues above the Tangipahoas should be found 
the Quinipissas ; and forty leagues above these, a 
division or fork in the river. La Fourche des Chetima- 
chas. Thence to the Coroas should be six leagues ; to 
the Natchez, ten ; to the Pensas, twelve ; to tlie Arkan- 
sas, eighty. The itinerary seemed plain, and by autho- 
rity accurate. He prepared to follow it* 

But a more unreliable, confusing set of guide-books 
he could not have had, as will be seen. The collection 
consisted of that version of the priest Zenobe Membre's 
account of the La Salle expedition contained in the sec- 
ond volume of Le Clerc's " Etablissement de la Foi ; " 
the priest Hennepin's plagiarism from the same, con- 
tained in his spurious Relation, and an account by Tonty, 
which the latter afterwards personally disowned to Iber- 
ville. On Ash Wednesday morning, mass was duly cele- 
brated, ashes were distributed, and a cross was erected. 
In defiult of wind, the journey proceeded by oars. 

The land began to rise perceptibly ; the overflow, 
according to the tally kept by the bark of the trees, 
decreasing to a foot and a half. From the usual post 


of observation, a tree-top, a sheet of water behind the 
right bank could be seen running in the same direction 
as the river.^ Over on the opposite side was a forest 
of different shades of green, in some places a mere 
seam, in others a quarter of a league wide, behind it, 
prairies dotted with tufts of foliage. 

Drift began to load the rising currents. No signs of 
inhabitants were visible, except some ferries, moored to 
the bank, — bundles o cane pointed at both ends, fast- 
ened together by cross pieces of wood. Every morning 
each camping-place was marked by a cross and cuts in 
the bark of trees. Every evening the cannon were fired ; 
but the reverberating echoes, tossed from bank to bank, 
awoke no hearers, no responders. Canadians were kept 
hunting for game, to eke out the ever-decreasing rations. 
The journals make note of great alligators pursued, 
sometimes killed and cooked, — and not unpalatable 
meat when liberated from its musk. 

The travelling was slow and laborious, mostly by 
oars. A different wind was needed for each bend in the 
river, and the river boxed the compass once, if not twice, 
a day. The water continued to rise, the drift to in- 
crease. The reinforced currents tore irresistibly round 
the bends, driving the helpless boats out of their course, 
until the men learned to hug to the bank in the quieter 
waters, while Bienville, scouting ahead in his, acted as 
guidon. Fires in the distance, a discarded cracked 
canoe (not of bark, but burned out of the whole log) 
showed that they were creeping upon human life. 
Quantities of blackberries now lined the banks, but no 
fruit or nut trees yet enriched the forest. The trees 

* Lake Borgne. 


grew handsomer, the foliage richer, vines, already passed 
the blossoming, hung in festoons heavy with promise of 
grapes. The land overflowed still, but slightly, only 
eight or ten inches deep. The hunters killed a wild 
beef, many of which were seen. 

Five days passed. With diminishing food, and in- 
creasing difficulties of driftwood and current to contend 
with, still nothing was to be seen ahead but the half- 
submerged trees which the tawny waters bore down upon 
them, and nothing on land but the occasional lethargic 
alligator, or chance glimpses of more attractive game, 
the men began to show fatigue and discouragement. 

At last, one morning, turning a bend, they came in 
sight of two Indians paddling a pirogue ; but in great 
alarm, the savages made for the woods and escaped. A 
gunshot farther on, five more pirogues of Indians were 
seen. This time, landing below them, Iberville ap- 
proached them on foot. All fled to one warrior. Him 
Iberville greeted and embraced in the Indian manner ; 
and sending his own men and boats out into the middle 
of the stream, he persuaded him to recall his compan- 
ions. This the Indian did, by chanting a peace-song. 
A small gratuity of trifles allayed the suspicions and se- 
cured the good will of the Indians. They belonged 
to the Annochy tribe. Inquiring after his Bayougoula 
friends, Iberville was told a tantalizing bit of informa- 
tion that they had returned to their village by a little 
stream that ran from the Mississippi into the Sound. 
Iberville asked to be guided to this village ; but the 
Annochy declined to interrupt their hunt. A hatchet, 
however, bought the services of one. 

The exhausted larders of the barges were replenished 


with meat, the Indians gladly availing themselves of the 
opportunity to trade away their necessities for French 
trumpery. One old fellow, in particular, spread out his 
entire stock of dried beef and bear's meat ; and sitting 
behind it in market style, bargained the whole of it 
away — a hundred pounds — for two knives. As the 
Indians had not heard the cannon, one was shot off for 
their edification. They threw themselves to the earth 
in transports of fear and astonishment at such a terrific 
exhibition of power. 

That night the camp was pitched on the right bank of 
the river, — according to Iberville's calculations, about 
thirty-five leagues from its mouth. Near by was a small 
deserted Indian village or camp, — ten or more cabins 
thatched with straw, — and on a point of the river's bank, 
what seemed to have once been a kind of stronghold, a 
small fortification of canes and saplings the height of a 
man, enclosing an oval space fifty feet long and twenty- 
five broad, in which were a few huts. Both banks in 
this locality were almost impassable, on account of the 
canes, which grew to a prodigious height and thickness. 
The guide took Iberville six leagues above this stop- 
ping-place (about the location now of the city of New 
Orleans), and showed him the Indian portage between 
the river and the bay — as the Indians called it — in 
which the French ships lay. It was then widely strewed 
with baggage of parties going and returning, over which 
pirogues could be easily dragged. To demonstrate how 
short it was, the guide hiirself took a package from the 
river to the lake (Lalve Pontchartrain) and returned. 

The weather changed from oppressive heat to oppres- 
sive cold ; but the only change in the river was another 


increase in its rapidity and crookedness. The rowers 
pulled six mile^^ to advance one, and averred that to get 
around a bend they crossed the stream four or five times. 
While they were camping on the right bank of the river 
during an idle day caused by rain, some of the men 
went out hunting, and two Breton sailors belonging to 
the " Marin " were lost. Cannon were fired at intervals 
during the niglit to guide them to camp, and at day- 
light four men were sent into the woods to search for 
them, directed by Iberville to fire their guns occasionally 
as they advanced. When they returned, after a fruit- 
less tramp, Iberville sent out another party of eight 
men, with compasses, starting each in a different direc- 
tion, with provisions, in case they found the wanderers, 
forbidding them to return to the camp until the cannon 
signalled them. The barges were ordered up and down 
the river to scan the banks. All in vain ; no trace or 
sound of the unfortunates could be gathered, and the 
expedition sorrowfully had to abandon and proceed 
without them. 

The next afternoon they passed a little stream about 
two hundred paces wide, flowing into the river from the 
west. The guide called it the River of the Ouachas 
(now Bayou Plaquemines). A league and a half beyond, 
they met two pirogues filled with Indian men and 
women. These turned out to be Ouachas and Baya- 
goulas. After trading what corn they had to the French- 
men, the Ouachas continued their journey to their 
village, two days distant, while the Bayagoulas turned 
back to announce in theirs the approach of visitors. 
The French landed, set up an iron mill they had with 
them, and ground their acquisition of corn. Their flour 


was gone ; they had very little bread left. With the 
ground corn they made sagamity, — hominy seasoned 
with salt pork ; and this formed their diet, with water, 
for the brandy was exhausted. 

At half past six o'clock the next morning they were 
on their way to the landing-place of the Bayougoulas ; 
and nerved by the prospect of rest and refreshment, the 
men rowed their best and with a will. 

A league below the landing, a pirogue met them, with 
a delegation of Bayagoulas and Mongoulachas, singing, 
and brandishing a calumet three feet long, brilliant with 
its decoration of coloured feathers. Passing from one 
barge to the other, they presented it, on the part of their 
tribes, to th white men to smoke ; after which the calu- 
met-bearer stationed himself in the prow of Iberville's 
boat, from which he brandished his symbol of peace, 
and chanted his song to the assemblage of his people 
waiting on the bank. As Iberville stepped from his 
boat, he was taken by two warriors, who, gently sup- 
porting him under the arms, led him to a cleared space, 
spread with bear-skins, where the chief sat in state, sur- 
rounded by warriors and women, — a mark of confidence. 
Sauvole, Bienville, and the priest, received with the 
same cordiality, were also led forward with the same 
ceremony. Resting on two forked sticks, in the very 
centre of the meeting-place, guarded by a warrior who 
never left it nor took his eyes off it, Iberville beheld the 
brave calumet which he had presented to the Indians 
on the sea-shore, — the miniature ship, with \\\t fleur-dc' 
lys banner. 

After much smoking, the priest only feigning to smoke, 
sagamity, cooked with soft red beans, was passed around, 


svith various kinds of corn-bread, pones baked in ashes, 
and different cakes made of fine corn-flour, enough not 
only for the officers, but for the whole expedition. 
Iberville gave the usual largess in the shape of presents, 
adding a treat of brandy weakened with water, — of 
which, however, the Indians partook sparingly, finding 
it rather ardent for their uncivilized stomachs. 

The Mongoulacha chief, described as "a man of 
inconceivable pride, never laughing, staring fixedly be- 
fore him all the time," wore a garment which was like 
a light in the wilderness to the Frenchmen, — a coat, or 
capote, of blue Poitou serge. In response to the eager 
inquiries about it, he said it had been given to him, in 
passing, by the " Iron Hand," Tonty, of whom he re- 
lated confirmatively many incidents, partly by signs, 
and partly in his own language. Iberville says that he 
could understand the words he took down in writing 
on the sea-shore, but that his brother Bienville, who had 
kept the guide with him in his canoe, had learned the 
language so well that he could understand everything 
in it, and speak it passably. 

The La Salle Relations spoke of the river's dividing 
into two channels, and said : " We followed the channel 
to the right, although we had intended taking the other, 
but passed it in a fog without seeing it." Iberville, who 
wished to descend by this channel, or fork, on the right, 
to the sea, and thus acquaint himself with all the outlets 
of the river, catechised the Indians about it. But he 
could hear nothing of it from them. They maintained 
that the Mississippi neither forked nor branched, and 
that Tonty had passed by them both going to and re- 
turning from the mouth. 


Iberville could not square this at all, he says, with the 
accounts in the Relations, especially with that of the 
Recollet Hennepin, whom he thought himself more 
particularly obliged to trust. 

The Indians drew a map of the country to demon- 
strate how Tonty had passed from them to the Houma. 
As for the deserted pillaged village of the Tan- 
gipahoas, their village had never been on the banks 
of the Mississippi. They had formed one of the seven 
tribes of the Quinipissas whose villages the Houma 
had destroyed, adopting the survivors into their own 
tribe, where Iberville could see them. 

The doughty heart, which had been equal to any 
enterprise, however perilous, sank before such dis- 
crepancies and contradictions. He was, as he says, 
in a very embarrassing situation : one hundred and 
ninety leagues away from his vessels, his provisions 
exhausted, his men spent with their strenuous and 
constant toil up stream ; with his establishment still 
to locate, and Surgeres behind him, with orders to 
return to France in six weeks. "Always," he writes, 
"coming back to the Relation of the Recollet father, 
not being able to believe him so unworthy as to make 
a false statement to the whole of France," although he 
knew that the priest had lied oft and arrantly in his 
accounts of Canada and Hudson Bay. 

There was also, of course, the suspicion that the 
Bayagoulas, out of fear or jealousy of the Quini- 
pissas, might be deceiving him. 

He was convinced that if he put back from where he 
was, without further proof that Tonty had passed by 
there, and that he, Iber ille, was in the Mississippi, it 


would not be credited in France that he had been 
there, in face of the contradictory Relations. There 
seemed nothing for him to do but to push on to the 
Houma, — still five days' journey farther off up the 

During his cogitations, the afternoon sped in feasting, 
singing, and dancing. At nightfall the Indians took 
their departure for their village, about a mile inland, 
on the high land, making a brilliant procession, I old- 
ing blazing fagots of cane in their hands to light their 
way. The French promised to visit them the next 

By daylight a deputation of them was back again, 
singing, and bringing the precious calumet, which when 
off duty was carefully kept in a leathern bag. The 
ceremony of smoking it over, it was again deposited on 
the forked sticks, a warrior mounting guard over it. 
At six o'clock, mass being said and breakfast eaten, 
Iberville, Bienville, Sauvole, the priest, and two Cana- 
dians set out for the village. They found it situated 
near a little stream surrounded by a palisade of cane 
ten feet high. They were met at the gateway, and 
led to the open space before the cabin of the Mongou- 
lacha chief, who seemed to outrank the Bayougoula 
chief. When they were seated on the cane mats 
spread upon the ground for them, Iberville displayed 
his presents, — a gala lot, grandiose in the pleased eyes 
of the savages, a scarlet doublet embroidered in tinsel, 
scarlet hose, shirts, blankets, mirrors, beads, hatchets, 

The Indians reciprocated with their richest, — twelve 
large dressed deer-skins (which Iberville gave to his 


men for shirts), and copious feasts of sagamity and 

While the presents were being apportioned, Iberville 
promenaded through the village, of which he writes a 
minute description. The temple, which occupied the 
central position in it, was round, about thirty feet in cir- 
cumference, and constructed of timber set upright in the 
ground, and cemented half way up with mud. The 
roof was a conical-shaped cap made of split cane neatly 
joined together, with rude figures of birds and animals 
daubed upon it, noticeably a cock in red. Over the 
entrance was a shed eight feet deep, supported by two 
large pillars connected by a great transverse beam. On 
one side of the entrance were the same rude images 
as on the roof; on the other, the opossum appeared 
in all its carefully accentuated manifold uglinesses, — 
pig's head, rat's tail, badger's skin, and pouched stom- 
ach. Iberville, describing it, mentions that he had 
killed and examined eight. Entering the narrow tall 
door, two dried worm-eaten logs were perceived, 
smouldering, end to end, with a fire that was supposed 
never to die out. At the far end was a kind of table, 
a scaffold upon which lay bundles of bear, deer, and 
beef skins, — the offerings of the faithful to their tutelary 
deity, the opossum, called, in the vernacular of the tribe, 
Choucouacha, whose image, painted in red and black, 
ornamented the walls. Among the offerings Iberville 
discovered a glass bottle, — another track in the sand for 
him, which he failed not to trace to its origin. It also 
had been left by Tonty when in passing there to or from 
the mouth of the river. 

With the exception of the portico, the cabins were 


constructed exactly like the temple, some as large, 
others smaller. The earth furnished the flooring to all, 
and the opening in the apex of the conical roof did duty 
for chimney and windows. The beds, elevated about 
two feet above the ground, were frames, with bark- 
covered twigs or branches the size of a man's arm, for 
slats, over which were laid cane mats for matresses, and 
bear-skins for covering. The only other furniture of the 
cabins were the earthen pots, which the women made 
neatly and delicately enough. The men went naked, — 
** without perceiving it," as Iberville says. The women 
wore girdles of cloth woven from the fibres of the bark 
of trees, coloured mostly red and white, and fringed with 
long cords, which fell to the knee, moving gracefully with 
every motion of the body. The Httle girls wore girdles 
of moss. The young women — Iberville says he saw 
no pretty ones among them — had a fashion of blacken- 
ing their teeth and tattooing their faces and breasts, and 
were much given to bracelets and bangles. All the 
women wore their hair in packages, as it is described, 
on top of their heads. The young men adorned them- 
selves with a primitive and masculine kind of a sash made 
of feathers strung together, weighted at the end with bits 
of stone or metal, which, hanging down behind like a 
horse's tail, jangled and tinkled when the wearers danced, 
and made as much clatter as a courier arriving. 

The village consisted, in all, of about two hundred 
cabins, with some hundred and fifty men and a very 
small proportion of women, who had suffered greatly 
from the small-pox, which had destroyed a quarter of the 
tribe, and which was prevalent at the time. The dead, 
wrapped only in cane mats, and disposed under little 



conical covers on the scaffolds erected all around the 
village, attracted huge flocks of bustards, and otherwise 
gave notice of the recent great mortality. The fields 
were small. They were tilled with implements made of 
bones, and when the crops were gathered, served as play- 
grounds for a game which consisted in throwing great 
sticks after a httle bullet-shaped pebble. Iberville thought 
them the most beggarly set of Indian warriors he had ever 
seen. Although well-made and agile, their bodies were 
not hardened by exercise or discipline ; they kept their 
faces painted, and wore their hair short, and lived almost 
entirely on corn, with only an occasional treat of game, 
which, however, they had to hunt at great distances, 
the boundaries of the different hunting territories being 
strictly defined, and maintained by force of arms. They 
possessed a few chickens, which, tradition related, they 
had brought with them or obtained from some tribes 
coming from the Far West. The surrounding forests 
were rich in all sorts of woods except pine, but with no 
fruit trees except the wild apple and peach. 

A party of Indians escorted the French to their camp. 
The rest of the warriors followed an hour afterwards, 
bringing presents of corn and bread, the Mongoulacha 
chief resplendently conspicuous among them in his red 



A GREAT cross, bearing the arms of France, was raised 
tiie following morning at the landing-place, and the next 
stage of the journey began. The Bayougoula chief, 
accompanying the party as guide and introducer, went 
in the barge with Iberville, eight of his men following in 
pirogues. He pointed out to Iberville, on the right- 
hand side of the river as they ascended, the little 
stream which conducted to the home of the Biloxi and 
Annochy. He called it the Ascantia River, and said 
it was the only fork he knew of from the Mississippi 
to the sea. 

They came to the dividing-line between the hunting- 
grounds of the Houmas and Bayagoulas, — a little river 
which had a great reputation for fish, but which yielded 
to the French, however, only a meagre result of " cat." 
Scattered about the bank were a number of cabins, with 
the usual palmetto thatchings ; and where it could catch 
the eye, stood a red leafless cornstalk, with heads of 
fish and bear, — the votive offerings of lucky hunters.* 
Bienville, who had landed with the Indians two leagues 
below for a bear-hunt, here rejoined his party with a fine 
trophy of his success. But there are two sides to every 
hunting story ; and Sauvole, with the careful veracity of 

* The Baton-Rouge which gave the capital of Louisiana its 
> name. 


the sportsman who is not in the hunt, explains in his 
narrative that it was an Indian who discovered the bear 
in the hollow of the tree, and drove it out by dropping 
fire-brands upon it ; and that all that Bienville did was 
to shoot the bear as it came out, and that he had been 
forced to yield the game to the discoverer of it. 

They now passed the first island in the river ; it was 
about a league long. Two leagues above the island 
the right bank rose to an elevation of fifty feet, which 
continued for six miles, the opposite bank remaining 
as flat as ever. And still two leagues farther on, the 
Bayagoula chief pointed out to Iberville a little bayou 
not six feet wide, by which, he said, if the barges 
could only get through, a whole day's journey would 
be saved. 

The Canadian commander was not one to be stopped by 
an " if" in such an emergency, with time to be shortened. 
He immediately halted his barges and sent Bienville for- 
ward in his canoe to investigate. * His report was that 
the barges could be taken through at the expense of a 
little work. Orders were given to the Canadians, who 
shouldered their axes and went to work. A drift-pile 
thirty feet high and five hundred paces thick was cut 
through, a pathway three hundred and fifty feet long 
was cleared for the portage of the baggage, and the 
bottom of the runlet cleared of obstructions and as 
much as possible levelled. The luggage was unshipped 
and carried over the portage, pulleys were rigged to the 
trees, and the barges slowly tolled along. 

It was raining, and the trampled ground soon became 
a mire in which the men could not keep foothold ; but 
under the urgings of their commander, and their own 


eagerness to knock off at least one day from their irk- 
some rowing, the men accomplished their task. At nine 
o'clock at night, by the blazing light of cane fagots, the 
barges were launched out of the by-way into the great 
river again, with eighteen miles safely put behind them. 
Thus Pointe Couple was made, — a cut-off which the Mis- 
sissippi, as keen to save time and distance as Iberville, 
was not slow to profit by, abandoning for it in time its 
original channel. The tired labourers crossed to the 
bank, where Bienville, preceding them, had the camp 
and supper already prepared, — a supper of Indian sim- 
pHcity and frugality ; the last two hundred pounds in 
each barge being reserved for the return voyage. 

The crews rowed through the last stretch of the jour- 
ney, six long leagues, cursing and swearing, Iberville 
writes, against all authors of false Relations and of such 
prolongations of anxiety, fatigue, and deprivation. 

Cannon were fired well in advance, to apprise the 
Indians of their approach. Experience had evidently 
taught the savages whom and what to expect after such 
an announcement, and the proper palliatives. 

As soon as the barges hove in sight, the deputations 
waiting at the landing-place raised their chant and flour- 
ished their calumet. The Bayagoula chief answered 
in kind for the French \ embraces and tendernesses were 
profusely lavished in the reception, and first the officers, 
then all the crew, were smoked with. 

Iberville, Bienville, Sauvole, and the priest, with an 
escort of Canadians, set out at once for the village. 

The deputation, singing all the time, walked ahead, 
leading, without a stop, through swamps and canebrakes, 
and up and down the little steep, irregular hills that 


diversified the diflficultics of the way, at a speed which 
severely taxed the heavily clad white men to follow. 

Four hundred feet from the village another deputation, 
with song and pipe, stood waiting, and another ceremo- 
nious smoking was inflicted upon the impatient Iberville. 
They proceeded again, and again were halted upon a 
little elevation about a hundred paces away, until the 
chief was officially informed by a messenger of their 
arrival, and the proper invitation to advance was received. 
This time the procession attained the entrance of the 
village, the chanters always in front, singing, the warriors 
following with their calumets. 

The chief and two of his dignitaries now made their 
appearance, each one holding — as a propitiatory and 
complimentary effort — a white cross, the calumet of 
the Christians. 

Iberville and his officers were saluted, and carefully 
escorted to the temple, where, on account of the rain, 
mats had been spread for the reception. 

After smoking and partaking of sagamity and pumpkin, 
Iberville came directly to the point with his presents, 
explaining that he had still handsomer ones in the 
barges awaiting their acceptance, — a piece of astuteness 
which the Indians seemed to understand and appreciate 
perfectly well. Their politeness was extremely pains- 
taking. After each separate gift, the whole assembly 
would rise, and extending their arms, give the prolonged 
" Hou ! Hou ! Hou ! " howl of thanks. The rain ceasing, 
an adjournment was made to the open space in front of 
the chiefs cabin, where all the village could gather 
around the strangers, and where the smoking and eating 
were not suffered to languish a single instant. In the 


afternoon a ball in all form was given. Singers, station- 
ing themselves on one side the open space, raised the 
music, beating time with the chichicouchy * rattles in 
their hands. A moment's pause to whet expectation 
and curiosity, and the youth and beauty of the tribe 
bounded into the circle, — thirty-five girls and young 
men, gorgeous in all their savage panoply of costume, with 
their girdles of feathers, fringe, and tinsel flying and 
tinkling in the air, faces and bodies glittering with fresh 
paint. The girls wore bouquets of bird plumes in their 
braids, and carried in their hands long bunches of varie- 
gated feathers, which they used as fans and to beat time 

The bucks had added to their bravery by hanging 
disks of thin metal from their girdles, which clashed and 
banged against their knees, adding a martial beat to the 
measures of the chichicouchy and the songs. 

For three hours, the dancing was kept up, without a 
sign of fatigue or lessened pleasure. When night fell, 
all repaired to the cabin of the chief, where, after supper 
by the light of a cane fagot fifteen feet long and two 
thick, the young men danced a war-dance, armed cap- 
a-pie^ with bows, arrows, knives, and tomahawks. At 
midnight all retired, leaving the chief with his guests, — 
not to repose, however ; for Iberville says that the Houma 
and Bayagoula chiefs began immediately to harangue 
one the other, the Houma speaking for himself, the 
Bayagoula for himself and the French. 

The Houma chief is described as a venerable patri- 
arch of seventy, five feet ten inches tall, and stout in 
proportion, with a flattened forehead which was then an 
1 Gourds, holding a few pebbles. 


obsolete fashion, and not customary among the men of 
his tribe. 

The Houma village was essentially like the Baya- 
goula. The cabins, numbering about one hundred and 
forty, were built in a double row around the top of a hill, 
with the usual open space in the centre. At most, it 
held three hundred and fifty warriois. The cornfields 
lay in the valleys and on neighbourin \ hills, the soil of 
which was black, strong, and rich. 

The French wished to return to their boats the 
first thing in the morning ; but the chief detained them 
until the women had finished pounding a present of 
corn for them. While they were waiting, six of the men 
from the boats, anxious at their long absence, appeared 
in search of them. The pounding completed, all took 
their departure, after firing numerous salutes. They 
were followed to the outskirts of the settlement by pro- 
testing hosts and politely weeping women. Two hours 
after their arrival at the boat the chief paid the return 
visit, followed by a retinue of half his village, loaded with 
presents of corn. The men all carried crosses, and when 
they came to the great cross erected by the French, 
they marched solemnly in procession around it, singing 
to it and throwing offerings of tobacco upon it, deter- 
mined at any price to secure its good-will. They re- 
ceived the anticipated return of the handsomer presents 
awaiting them in the barges, and were well satisfied with 
their red embroidered coat, and the shirts, knives, hatch- 
ets, flints, and beads that Iberville gave with a liberal 

The calumet was smoked, and one of the principal 
warriors made a speech to Iberville, which lasted over a 


half hour ; all the officers listening gravely and atten- 
tively, although not one of them understood a word of 
it. Iberville needing more corn, forty men were sent 
(luring the night to the village for it. They returned by 
daylight, bringing at least three barrels of it, with quan- 
tities of pumpkins and some fowls. 

The Houmas had much to say of Tonty, who had 
passed five days with them at their village, leaving his 
boats at the same place where Iberville had moored his. 
But the Quinipissas gave the lie direct to the Rela- 
tions by stating that their village was seven days distant 
from the mouth of the river, and that neither Tonty 
nor any of the PYench had ever been there, — which, says 
Iberville, greatly distressed and perplexed him ; and 
he could not see that he was any nearer certainty 
than when at the Bayagoulas. Apprehending that the 
Houmas might also have reasons for concealing the 
truth, there seemed to be no way of arriving at the 
solution of his doubts and the Relations' misstatements, 
except by going on to the next tribe mentioned in the 
Relations, — to the Coroas, six leagues below whom, 
according to the R^collet father, the enigmatical fork in 
the river had been met. The next day, Sunday, after 
the usual oratorical display by the Indian warriors, and 
another procession around the cross, and more ob- 
lations of tobacco upon it, the boats pushed off from 
shore for another forced journey of still nine days' more 
hard rowing up stream. 

Iberville started in the pirogue with the five Houmas 
and one Tensas, who had consented to accompany the 
expedition ; but in order to see if the Tensas would not 
talk differently when separated from his crowd, he soon 


changed to his barge, taking the Tensas with him. The 
latter, however, firmly sustained the assertion that he had 
been as high as the Arkansas, and that the Mississippi, or 
Malbouchia, did not fork. He drew a map of the coun- 
try, showing that in three days they would arrive at a river 
flowing in from the west, — the Sassenocogoula (Red 
River), which had two forks ; and upon one of them he 
named several tribes mentioned by Tonty in his ac- 
count of La Salle's journey towards the Arkansas. One 
day, after leaving the Sassenocogoula, the Tensas said the 
Mississippi, by a great turn, would lead them back to 
within a league and a half of the Houma village they 
had just left, where they would find the chief and his 
warriors waiting to feast them. Three days after this 
turn they would reach the village of Theloel, composed 
of eight smaller villages, of which the Natchez formed 
one. From the Natchez, ascending the river two days 
and a half, they would reach the Tensas, and three days 
higher up than the Tensas they would find the Coroas, 
or Yazous. All of which was fairly correct ; but nothing 
could have been more different from the order of tribes 
and distances given in the Relation of Father Zenobe 
Membr^, contained in Father Chretien Le Clerc's 
" ttablissement de la Foi," his guide. 

In one column, Iberville set down the tribes as they 
appeared in the Relation, with the distances there 
ascribed between them. In anotlier, he placed the 
distances he had made so far in the journey, as calcu- 
lated by himself and his pilots, with the Indian villages 
he had passed, filling out the rest of the journey, as far 
as the Arkansas, with the distances and tribes, all the 
Indians individually and collectively agreed upon. The 


result of a comparison between them was a difference of 
ninety-three miles in distance, and no resemblance what- 
ever in the order of villages. 

It was noon ; the stop was made for dinner. He 
subjected the Indians again to a rigid cross-examination. 
The Bayagoula, impressed by such obstinate pertina- 
city in looking for a fork which did not exist in the. 
river, and knowing full well that Tonty had not passed 
through any fork, but had gone to the mouth and re- 
turned by the main stream, finally was driven to confess 
that the Mongoulacha chief had in his possession a 
written paper like the one Iberville had given him, 
which Tonty had left with him to give to a man who was 
to come up the river from the sea. This paper could 
be for no ^ther than La Salle. Iberville reflected for a 
space of two hours, and then, he says, came to the con- 
clusion that so many Indians could not lie about so 
patent a fact as a fork in the river. If Father Zenobe 
Membr^'s Relation was true, that La Salle, Tonty, and he 
had descended by the western branch of the Mississippi, 
and as the Indians and this letter conclusively proved 
that Tonty had descended and ascended, the second 
time, by the same route as he did the first with I^ 
Salle, and that he had confidently expected La Salle to 
ascend also by this route, coming from the Gulf into the 
mouth of the river, — thefi this stream upon which they 
travelled and which Iberville was on, according to 
them, was not the Mississippi, but a western branch of 
the Mississippi ; and as there was, as far as Pensacola, no 
considerable stream east of this, flowing into the Gulf, 
except the Mobile, then it followed that that must be 
the Mississippi, — which was an absurdity, as the mouth 


of the Mobile River did not at all answer to the description 
of the mouth of the Mississippi. And Iberville says, 
further, he knew that when Father Zenobe was at Bay 
St. Louis (Matagorda Bay) with La Salle, he had stated 
that that water might belong to the western branch of 
the Mississippi, but that he was not able to recognize it, 
having only descended the eastern branch. Throwing 
tlie priestly narrative to the winds, and pronouncing the 
author a liar who had disguised every truth, the Cana- 
dian commander determined that he was in the Mis- 
sissippi, and that he would consume no more time and 
expend no more trouble in the vain attempt of trying 
to make his facts tally with the Re'collct's fiction. He 
issued his orders, the boats were turned down stream, 
and by six o'clock in the evening they were again tied at 
the landing of the Houmas. 

Bienville and two Canadians were immediately speeded 
to the village to acquaint the Bayagoulas tarrying there 
with the change of plan, and bid them be at the land- 
ing-place by daylight if they wished to return with the 
French. But the Bayougoula warriors, engaged in frol- 
icking with the Houma women, showed so little dispo- 
sition to heed the summons that Bienville, feigning great 
mdignation, turned upon his heel, and refusing all refresh- 
ment and overtures, returned to the camp, making the 
sixteen — or more correctly, considering the country, the 
eighteen — miles in less than three hours : an exhibition 
of physical strength whicli all the journals note with admi- 
ration, mentioning especially that he had to feel most of 
his way home in the (lark, through the canebrakes. 

The village, terrified beyond measure at such porten- 
tous conduct, hurriedly got corn, pumpkins, chickens, 


and calumets together, loaded them upon the recalci- 
trant Bayagoulas, who were urged to hasten with all 
speed after the offended messenger, the Houma chief 
sending six of his tribe along with them, and promising 
to present himself in the morning. 

Iberville accepted their explanations and excuses, and 
sent back some of the Houmas to the village by torch- 
light for more corn, which he offered to buy. But the 
chief marched in the next morning at the head of ninety 
of his people, men and women, bearing full supplies of 
provisions as presents, all brimming over with such de- 
ferences and homages to the cross, and such devices in 
the way of politeness and tendernesses to the French, 
that the threatened harmony was completely restored, 
and the reconciliation made a love-feast. 

It was not long before the anxious hosts had the 
pleasure of seeing their difficult guests push forward 
the preparations for departure ; and there was another 
effusion of embraces and protestations on both sides. 
Finally the moment of departure came, the officers 
were supported to the barges, the barges pushed off, 
the cannon fired a salute, the Indians shouted, the 
French cried, *' Vive le roi ! " With supra-Gallic refine- 
ment of compliment, these savage Frenchmen gave 
back the cry in their crude but eager imitations until 
the barges disappeared down the river. 

Rowing willingly and easily down stream towards 
bread and wine, and away from corn-meal and simple 
water, the men brought the barges next day to the 
Ascantia, the little river that led to the lake where the 
ships lay at anchor. The canoes gained a day by going 
through the new " cut-off," where they found, they re- 


ported, the alligators swarming around the still glowing 
embers of their fires. 

The large boats not being able to get through the 
Ascantia, Iberville determined to explore it himself in 
pirogues. He left the expedition in command of his 
next in rank, Sauvole, and his own barge, with the Bay- 
agoula chief, to Bienville, whom he charged to buy if 
possible, but at any hazards to secure, the all-important 
letter of Tonty from the Mongoulacha chief. Then, 
pushing through the tangled opening of the little stream, 
he, with his Indian guide and lour Canadian attendants, 
in their two pirogues, were lost to view. 

In answer to their cannon-shot, Sauvole and Bien- 
ville found a party of Bayagoulas waiting at their land- 
ing with song and calumet and the joyful news that the 
two lost sailors had been found, and at the time were 
in the village. 

Here the first disagreeable feeling was elicited from 
the natives by an untoward incident, which modern 
readers must regret, although the chroniclers of it, in 
no mood either for R^collet priests or their narratives, 
treat it with an unseemly want of sympathy, if not with 
actual levity. In the confusion of disembarkation, Father 
Anasthase Douay missed the wallet in which he car- 
ried his breviary and a little manuscript, his faithful 
journal of all that had occurred during the expedition. 
The loss was iiTeparable to him ; he was inconsolable, 
and in the excitement of his grief attributed the theft to 
an Indian who had travelled in the same boat with him, 
and who, he declared, never took his eyes off the wallet 
when he, the priest, took out his breviary to read his 
prayers. The next day, the Feast of the Annunciation, it 


was, when the officers went to the Indian village. Father 
Anasthase accompanied them, in search of his property, 
and laid a complaint before the chief that one of his 
tribe had stolen it. The village was instantly called to- 
gether and the accusation stated, the reverend father 
standing by, weeping bitterly, — hoping thus, the savage 
conscience proving invulnerable, to touch the savage 
heart. The Indians were, or appeared to be, so discon- 
certed that they could not answer when the chief asked 
them if any one had seen the wallet. The priest then 
visited every cabin, in tears and despair, until the In- 
dians, growing more and more offended, began to be 
threatening, when the French had the priest conducted 
to the barges and left there. But the entente cor- 
diakf once broken, could not be resumed. The old 
women stopped pounding corn, the messengers returned 
with the supplies of provisions they were taking to. the 
boats. The forms of amity were indeed preserved, but 
no assistance or hospitality was further offered or yielded. 
Bienville bought Tonty's letter for a hatchet from the 
Mongoulacha chief. The suspicious savage explained 
that he had concealed it, fearing the French might be 
Spaniards. He now produced, in addition, an " Imita- 
tion of Christ," some pictures, and a gun which he said 
the Iron Hand had also given him. 

One can fancy the eagerness with which the precious 
document was opened and read, and the expressions of 
disgust and impatience which fell from all lips at its 
tardy appearance amid the doubts and misgivings which 
it so easily and clearly solved. Besides settling the 
fact that the Mississippi was the Mississippi, it explained 
away one at least of Iberville's perplexities. It was 


dated from the village of the Quinipissas, showing that 
the Mongoulachas and Bayagoulas, for their own pur- 
poses, had either deceived him, or were deceiving Iber- 
ville's party by giving a false name to the village. 

Hearing, Tonty wrote, that La Salle had lost a ship in 
his expedition in search of the mouth of the river, and 
that the savages were plundering him, and fearing that 
he was in open warfare with them, he, Tonty, with 
twenty-five men, had descended to the mouth of the 
river to assist him. All the Indians met, going and 
coming, had shown themselves friendly ; but although he 
had explored the Gulf twenty-five miles on each side 
the mouth of the river, he had discovered no trace of 
his friend. He had found the cross bearing the arms of 
the king, erected by La Salle eight years before, lying 
half buried in the sand, and he had set it up again, 
seven leagues. Upon a tree standing near the cross he 
had fixed a sign, and in the hollow of it he had placed a 
letter, addressed " A M. de La Salle, Gouverneur-Gend- 
ral de la Louisiane." ^ 

Bienville also bought from the Mongoulacha chief, for 
a gun and some ammunition, a little boy, who, Sauvole 
says, cried bitterly at parting from his people. 

1 It should be explained that the Mississippi itself is responsi- 
ble for some of the errors attributed to the Relations, and also for 
much of La Salle's mystification on the coast of Texas. When 
he descended and ascended the river it was flood-high, which so 
changed the topography of its banks and its mouth that Tonty, 
in his later trip, almost failed to recognize them. Iberville also 
met a man afterwards who knew the river well, and who was 
with Tonty among the Quinipissas. He assured Iberville that 
the chief of the Quinipissas was also chief of the Mongoulachas, 
and that they were established twenty leagues lower down the 


The restored sailors recounted their wanderings and 
sufferings to a sympathetic and interested audience. 
They had found their way to the river, and were trying 
to ascend the banks of it, in the hope of catching up with 
the boats, when, at the last extremity of fatigue and starva- 
tion, they were rescued by some Indians, who, minister- 
ing to them in their exhausted condition, in their kind- 
ness conveyed them to the Bayougoulas, offering, in case 
they could not find their companions, to take them in 
pirogues to their vessels at Ship Island. 

Making from twelve to nineteen leagues a day, the 
barges soon reached the passes. One of them — evi- 
dently the Passe k Sauvole — was, by Iberville's com- 
mands, explored and sounded. In a reversed order, the 
first experiences and sufferings in the Delta were gone 
through, — minus, however, the terrific storm ; and the 
barges drew up alongside their ships, their work done, 
just one month and two weeks after starting out, and just 
eight hours after the arrival of Iberville. The command- 
er's voyage had not been a light one. The Ascantia 
proved to be about ten feet wide and three or four deep, 
and very much obstructed. During the first day, he had 
travelled seven leagues, and made fifty portages over 
fallen trees and drifted rafts. The country was one of 
the finest he had ever seen, rich earth, fine forests, and 
no canebrakes, but overflowing five or six feet in high 
water. The river was filled with fish and crocodile, and 
wild turkeys in quantities had been heard, although there 
had been no success in killing any. On the second 
day the guide deserted ; but he determined to c( ntinue 
without him, certain, if he returned to the Miss ssippi, 
that he could not overtake the barges, and wis'l ling to 



show the Indians that he could go where he chose, — 
confident, at all events, of reaching his ships, even if h ^ 
were forced to abandon the pirogues he had, travel b ■ 
land, and make other pirogues as he needed them. 
One of the Canadians fell ill, and Iberville had to re- 
place him at the portages, carrying one end of a pirogue, 
which, he says, fatigued him greatly. In all, he made 
eighty portages during the journey. The Ascantia was 
re-named the Iberville ; the first lake they came to, a 
pretty oval sheet of water, six leagues by four, was 
named after the young principal of the expedition, the 
Count of Maurepas ; the second after his father, Pont- 
chartrain, the M ister of Marine. 

There was no time for explorations or soundings, only 
for such observations as a forced march permitted ; but 
taken as they were by an eye born and trained to accu- 
racy, they stand to-day, in Iberville's official report, a 
fair description of the region. Camping at night on the 
low grassy points or islands around the lakes, he made 
acquaintance with those pests of succeeding generations 
of hunters and fishermen, the insatiable lake-shore mos- 
quitoes, — " terrible little animals," he says, " to men in 
need of rest." His record of seven to twelve leagues a 
day, — a pretty good record for the character of the coun- 
try traversed, — soon brought him to the shore opposite 
his ships. The weather was cloudy and windy. He 
kindled a great fire to attract the attention of his ships, 
that boats might be sent next day, in case the lake 
proved too rough for crossing in pirogues. The mor- 
ning was clear, however, the water calm. He set out in 
the pirogues, and was more than half way over to Ship 
Island when he met the barges coming to investigate 


the cause of the fire of the night before. He arrived 
on board the " Badine " at midday, — eight hours, as 
has been said, before his barges from the Mississippi. 

Speaking of the Tonty letter, he remarked character- 
istically, that he was sorry he was not in the party which 
descended the river with it, for he should have found 
the tree in which Tonty had deposited the other letter. 
He says he could easily have done so, as there were 
very few trees eight leagues from the mouth of the river, 
and those few only on the left-hond side ascending. 

Sauvoie reported that he liad discovered one spot 
on the river-lands which did not overflow. It was upon 
the left bank descending, about twenty-five leagues 
above the mouth of the river, and a league more or 
less inward. 



Instead of searching for Sauvole's one point of high 
land upon the bank of the Mississippi, and making his 
establishment at once where Bienville was forced to 
make it later, after fifteen years of costly and painful 
experimentation, Iberville, pressed by time and dimin- 
ishing provisions, cast his eye around for a situation 
nearer at hand. It was vitally necessary for him to 
make his establishment at once, on account of failing 
supplies, and as near to his ships as possible. The 
mouth of the Pascagoula River, with its easy inland com- 
munication, was obviously the first choice ; but it had 
been surveyed during the expedition by Iberville's or- 
ders, and th* /e was no depth of water in it. The little 
bay of Biloxi, with its island shelter, offered the next 
best conditions of harbourage proximity to the fleet 
and to the villages of the Biloxis, Pascagoulas, and Moc- 
tohys, from which, at need, assistance might be drawn. 
Iberville, within a few hours after his return from his 
arduous journey, with all his fatigues upon him, de- 
spatched the felucca to this point to investigate the 
practicability of reaching it in the transports. An un- 
favourable answer was brought the next morning. Tak- 
ing the felucca then himself, Iberville sailed back to the 
lakes he had just traversed, to see what they might 
offer. The following night he returned, about ten 


o'clock, having lost his bearings again and again in the 
darkness and in the heavy sea, which every moment 
all but swamped him, and in a tide that had already 
carried him beyond the islands, and was carrying him 
out to sea, when the lights in the ships' masts rescued 
him. While he had found on Pontchartrain and Mau- 
repas good situations for a fort and sufficient depth of 
water for the transports, the distance from the fleet and 
from the Mississippi would make them acceptable only 
as a last resource. The statement of an officer of the 
" Marin " contradicting the low depth of water at the 
mouth of the Pascagoula was sufficient to induce him to 
proceed there at once with men, implements, and mate- 
rials for work. But after two hours' sounding, he found 
not only a uselessly meagre channel through intervening 
sand-bars, but an oyster-bank which blocked the mouth 
of the river. There seemed nothing for it but to make 
the establishment on Lake Pontchartrain, with all the 
foreseen drawbacks of tedious transportation from the 
ships, and without the reinforcement of workmen which 
otherwise could have been drawn from the crews. Bien- 
ville, who had accompanied the felucca, as usual, in his 
pirogue, was sent back to the fleet with the discouraging 

In passing Biloxi, on his way from Pascagoula, 
the indefatigable commander made one more trial of 
sounding with his own hand. The proverbial reward to 
the eye of the master ensued. A seven-foot deep chan- 
nel was found, which led to a snug little harbour between 
the mainland and the island, which was a complete cloak 
against the south wind. Following the terraced-looking, 
oak-grown shore around its curve, a diminutive bay 


Opened to Iberville's view. He made the tour of it 
in his pirogue, and that night slept on the spot he had 
selected for his fort, which was at least to serve his 
purpose until a more advantageous position could be 
selected, under less stringent circumstances. 

A railroad trestle now spans the deep embrasured 
little recess, and the eye of the speeding passenger can 
note on the eastern side the eminence upon which 
Iberville camped nearly two centuries ago. Now, as 
then, guns, planted upon it, would sweep three fourths 
of the limited horizon, arbitrarily commanding the chan- 
nel in all its length and breadth. The channel now is 
ever white with sails of business or pleasure boats, and 
the fanciful gaudiness of summer villas studs the sombre, 
heavily-wooded beach. Opposite the island, under the 
wide-spreading branches of the great oaks where once the 
fishing and hunting parties of Indians lighted their fires 
and swung their caldrons, a quaint assemblage of French 
and Spanish houses form a town, — a town picturesque 
and redolent of an indefinable charm, despite the sordid 
vulgarities of competing summer-resort hotels. The eye 
must be churlish indeed that does not brighten at the 
recollection of the panorama of the passing hours there, 
from the time the sun first rises, to set in motion the 
grand phantasmagory of cloud and water transmuta- 
tions, until it drops, oppressive with tropical splendour, 
into a sea glorified to receive it, out of which the 
moon rises, or has risen, to plate mainland and open 
sea, the town, island, anchored boats, and rippling water, 
in one silvery sheen ; or, when the moon does not 
rise, when the stars shine out and, increasing in size 
and brilliancy, seem to descend lower and lower 


to the earth, the water striking back rival and scin- 
tillating reflections, until the constellations seem to 
form kinships with the lights of the town and with 
the lamps swinging in the dim cordage over invisible 

The eight-mile stretch of island in front — a weanling 
from the mainland, according to tradition — has lost the 
game which still gives it its name and its beauty, if it ever 
had any. It holds a thinning forest growth, — a wind- 
riven, wind-shaken, weirdly ugly race of stunted oaks, dis- 
located and distorted by their sharp cyclonic struggles ; 
some of them, old and wizen, still crouching from the 
blast that felled them in tender youth; some, prone 
upon the ground, whence their branches have grown 
upright into stout trees; all of them tied and gnarled 
together, like forlorn hopes, by vines as wrinkled and 
sinewy as themselves, all of them hoar with a moss that 
had never been otherwise than whipped to raggedness 
by the wind. 

Trees were cut, a space was cleared, and the plan of 
the fort laid out. But the impatient Iberville com- 
plained that the work went slowly : few of the men 
were good woodsmen ; some of them tool a day to 
cut a tree ; but he acknowledged that the trees were of 
prodigious size, and of the hardest oak and nut woods ; 
a forge had to be constructed to mend the axes which 
were broken constantly upon them. Large draughts of 
workmen were supplied from the crews of the ships, 
between which and the fort the barges and small boats 
plied incessantly, landing the guns, ammunition, pro- 
visions, and live-stock, and ferrying the details of men 
back and forth over the twenty-five miles of separation. 


The logs for the bastions, and posts for the stockade 
were cut a half league away, and boated a hundred at a 
time to the fort. For two days twenty-five men were 
kept busy sowing corn and peas. The officers mul- 
tiplied themselves to meet their double duties on sea 
and land. Even Father Anasthase had to prepare for 
Easter ubiquitously ; confessing the ships and then con- 
fessing the fort, celebrating the Communion here, then 
hurrying away to celebrate it there, on one of his 
journeys coming within two fingers of sinking to the 
bottom, a storm striking the barge, heavily laden with 
cannon-balls, the lake rising in billows, and the rain 
pouring down in such torrents as to render the lake 
fresh for eight days afterwards. 

In the thick of the work .;/e Spanish deserters ar- 
rived, on their way to Mexico. They brought a sad 
tale of the mortality from starvation and disease they 
had left behind them. The commandant had hurried 
away to Vera Cruz with the news of the designs of the 
French upon the coast, leaving his garrison in dire want 
of every necessity; all who could, were deserting. 

The Spaniards were so full of betrayal to their late 
masters, and so eager for enterprise, they painted the 
beauty and richness of the mines, the supine- 
ness of the Spaniards, the easy distance to San Luis 
Potosi, the facilities for capturing the periodical 
silver caravels, and their own ability to conduct the 
French thither, in such glowing language that even 
the practical Iberville was fired with enthusiasm. He 
kept the deserters to take back with him to France 
for future refe»*'^nce rnd use, and in his official journal 
to the minister reckoned that with five hundred Cana- 


dians (he never reckons with Frenchmen), he could 
hold in terror the whole Spanish territory. 

The necessity of relieving the pressure upon the 
supplies pushed the fort to a hasty completion. Two 
of the bastions were built of logs two and a half feet 
thick ; the other two were of stockade. It was sur- 
mounted by a parapet four feet high, armed with twelve 
cannon, and liberally equipped with men and ammu- 
nition ; but the lodgings and magazines were yet 
unfinished when Iberville and Surgeres took their 
departure, carrying with them only the bare crew and 
provisions necessary to get to France. 

The young lieutenant of the " Marin," Sauvole,* was 
left in command, — "a young man," Iberville writes, 

1 This Sauyole, sometimes called the first governor of Loui- 
siana, is often identified, and by good authorities, with a 
Fran9ois Marie Moyne, S'r'.urde Sauvole, a brother of Iber- 
ville and Bienville, of whom, beyond the fact of his birth, very 
little is authentically known. None of the official documents 
connected with the early histoiy of Louisiana mention him as 
the brother of Iberville and Bienville. M. Pierre Margry, in 
his able introduction to the sixia volume of his " Decouvertes et 
Documents historiques," introduces him briefly and simply as 
** parent de M. Polastron, commandant de St. Malo." Sauvole 
in his Relation never insinuates that he was a Le Moyne and 
brother to his commander-in-chief; on the contrary, in this frag- 
mentary document there is evinced s marked prejudice against 
Canadians, and no admiration, in speaking of Iberville and Bien- 
ville. Iberville, who is most careful always to note " My brother 
De Bienville," calls him only the Sieur de Sauvole, with the 
above laconic commendations; and finally, De Bienville, who, 
during the course of his long life, more than once recalls his ser- 
vices and losses, and the e cl his family, io the Government, in 
order to stimulate the generosity of a minister, does not include 
this very creditable career in his account. 


"of merit and capable." Bienville was advanced to 
Sauvole's position of "lieutenant of the king," and 
Levasseur Russonelle, the Canadian, to that of sergeant- 
major. Father Anasthase, satisfied, and perhaps more 
than satisfied, with discoveries of the Mississippi, par- 
ticularly by Canadians, demanded to be taken back to 
France to enter his convent, which, he said, he never 
wished to leave again. Iberville installed the almoner 
of the "Badine," M. Bordenave, in his place, — "a 
very honest man," he says ; but he bluffly regrets not 
having a Jesuit missionary to leave, " who," he says, 
" would have learned the language of the Indians in 
a very short while." On the 2d of May, Iberville and 
Surg^res, with the last detail of men, withdrew from the 
fort ; on the third, a Sunday, they sailed from Ship 
Island. They arrived in France during the latter part 
of June. 

Sauvole applied himself with serious conscientious- 
ness to the administration of his small government. He 
had mass celebrated every morning as regularly as 
aboard ship, which, he notes, Bienville and Levasseur 
attended, setting a very good example to the men. 
Work on the unfinished buildings was prosecuted with 
vigour ; while to promote and maintain the discipline so 
necessary in a small military establishment he put him- 
self to studying the characters and dispositions of his 
men, — a rather hopeless pursuit when applied to the 
men he had to do with. 

There is no trace of the hardy Canadian optimism 
of his predecessor in the elegantly written journal of 
the young Frenchman. It begins, indeed, hopefully 
enough ; but it soon dwindles away both in volume and 


spirit, ending with detached entries penned with the 
listless indifference that betrays climatic enervation. 

The seed sowed by Iberville, which sprouted so 
promptly, and from which such wonders were expected, 
soon withered under the hot sun, in the prolonged 
drought which came to afflict them, — a drought during 
which even the swamps dried up. Water became so 
scarce that had it not been for the discovery of a spring 
a league and a half from the fort, great suffering would 
have ensued. Provisions grew so scarce that a famine 
also would have set in, were it not for the arrival of the 
transport wliich, by Iberville's injunctions, had been 
sent to St. Domingo for supplies. The uncanny shapes 
of alligators met the eye at every moment, — they were 
killed at the very foot of the fort ; and a rattlesnake paid 
his respects by stinging one of Sauvole's dogs, which 
died in a quarter of an hour, afier swelling so greatly 
that he could not move from the spot. The soil 
was found ungrateful, nothing but birning sand, in 
which innumerably fruitless sowings were made. Before 
attention was called to it, the boats in the water were 
seriously damaged by worms ; the very trees in the 
forest were worm-eaten as they stood. In the hot 
weather the men could only work two hours morning 
and evening, and most of them were attacked with 
dysentery, from drinking bad water. As for their other 
beverage, brandy, Sauvole can only speak of it with 
bitterness as " the most pernicious of drinks, not only 
on account of the health, but on account of the discus- 
sions and quarrels it engenders. It ruins the body and 
brutalizes the mind." And whatever precaution.- he 
could take, it was never possible for him to make the 


men drink their ration daily ; they would hide it in 
secret places until enough accumulated to intoxicate. 
Wine would not have been a hundredth ["art so bad, or 
beer, had he possessed the ingredients to make it. With 
either one or the other the men would have behaved 
better, and the officers been spared the infliction of so 
much punishment. 

On the I St of July, two pirogues paddled across the 
bay to the fort. They were filled, not with Indian 
visitors, as might be expected, but with white men, — 
Canadians and two Seminary priests, Fathers Montigny 
and Davion, who had journeyed down the river, from 
their distant missions among the Tensas and Tunicas, to 
see the new French establishment, of which the Indians 
had brought them rumours. They were worn out with 
fatigue and from their intense suffering for want of 
drinking water during the ten days it had taken them 
to make their way from the mouth of the river to Biloxi. 
But for a rain, they would have perished of thirst. 

They were received with all the cordiality anticipated, 
and their spent forces refreshed with venison broth, 
from a deer providentially found by the hunters the day 
before ; but it was before the arrival of the transport 
of provisions from St. Domingo, and the addition of 
eighteen men was a serious tax on the supplies, which 
had been measured with no lavish hand to cany a cer- 
tain number of mouths to a certain term ; so that Sau- 
vole was forced to beg his guests to depart after nine 
days. The Canadians acceded unwillingly enough ; but 
the good priests, seeing the Ftraits to which their host 
was put for their entertainment, did their best to com- 
mand their turbulent companions. M. de Montigny 


wished to establish himself among the Natchez, who, he 
said, were the most numerous and respected of the 
Indians along the Mississippi. Sauvole gave him presents 
with which to ingratiate himself among them, — wine and 
wafers for his sacred offices, and flour for himself. 

The Indian visitors had to be treated with more cir- 
cumspection. Every week brouglit a deputation from 
the neighboring tribes, prompted by curiosity and greed, 
and Sauvole, according to his instructions, was careful 
not to disappoint them. The first to make an appear- 
ance was their old acquaintance Autobiscania, the Baya- 
goula chief, with a party of his warriors. They were 
received with military honours, which duly terrified them, 
as was intended ; but the presents reassured them, par- 
ticularly the shirts, which, to their great delight, were 
fitted upon them. They looked with wonder at the 
fort, beyond measure astonished that the French could 
get together and pile up such a number of great logs in 
such a short space of time. All went well until the 
sentinel came at nightfall to get the watchword from 
the sergeant. The whispering threw the Indians into a 
state of serious meditation and fears of treachery, out 
of which Sauvole had to calm and soothe them. 

At daylight, they confessed that their wives were on 
the other side of the bay, and they would also like to 
see the fort. Permission being given, the savage dames 
were sent for. When they landed, Autobiscania, anx- 
ious that the show should be equal to the female antici- 
pations, made signs to prompt Sauvole to put his men 
under arms, and ran himself to hunt up the drummer. 
When the visit terminated, which it seems to have done 
to the satisfaction of all parties concerned, Sauvole sent 


two French boys along with the Indians to learn their 
language, keeping an Indian boy with him to learn 

Autobiscania was persuaded to remain and guide 
Bienville to the Quinipissas. The wily chief, wishing 
to retain his monopoly of friendship with the French, 
hesitated a long time before consenting, alleging a fear 
that the Quinipissas would kill the white men. Bien- 
ville, carrying presents and a calumet, remained with 
the Quinipissas, or Colapissis, as they were also called, 
four days, during which time a friendship was cemented 
with all ceremony on both sides. But the return visit 
to the fort was not paid, as promised by them, the 
Bayagoula chief, no doubt, sufficiently intimidating 
them to prevent it. 

In answer to his question, the Quinipissas told Bien- 
ville that they had never seen nor heard of La Salle or 
Tonty. Bienville then visited the villages of the Moc- 
tohys, Biloxis, and Pascagoulas, along the Pascagoula 
River, eight leagues above its mouth. Unfortunately he 
kept no journal, and Sauvole in his journal gives small 
and unsatisfactory extracts from the report rendered 
him. The three villages in all contained not more than 
one hundred and twenty cabins, and counted but a 
hundred warriors. A party of them came shortly after- 
wards to the fort, bringing their calumet and a present 
of deer-skins. Sauvole says that they were the most 
polite and most self-possessed savages he had seen. 

From Pascagoula River, Bienville went to Mobile Bay, 
which he again explored and sounded. Then, with 
eight Canadians, he marched by land to Pensacola, and 
made a thorough reconnoissance of that place, and 


found it by no means in the deserted, abandoned state 
whicli the deserters reported, and which Sauvole in his 
journal so frankly desires. 

After a short stay in Biloxi, Bienville set out again, 
on the 23d of August, with two pirogues, five men, three 
weeks' provision, and a stock of presents, on tlie more 
important enterprise of retracing Iberville's route into 
the Mississippi, and hunting up the tribes living on the 
banks of the Ouacha River (Bayou Plaquemines). In 
three days he reached the Iberville River, and in a week 
was at the Bayagoula village, which he found in a great 
state of excitement over a sudden attack of the 

Obtaining a guide, he proceeded to the Ouacha, and 
paddled up it twelve leagues to the Ouacha landing. The 
village was situated a quarter of a league inland. But 
Bienville met here Indians of a different temper from 
any encountered hitherto in his travels. So ferocious 
and menacing were they that he was very glad to beat a 
retreat to his pirogues, where, during the night, they 
made an attempt to surprise him. The village was com- 
posed of three tribes, — the Ouachas, the Chouachas, 
and the Opelousas ; the last described as a wandering 
tribe, mostly frequenting the Gulf shores. 

Bienville intended following the Ouacha to its exit 
into the Gulf, had there been such an exit ; but, as the 
Indians informed him, the little river lost itself in various 
inland bayous and swamps, most of which dried up dur- 
ing the summer. He therefore returned to the Missis- 
sippi, and the pirogues had rapidly paddled their way 
down stream to within twenty-three miles above the 
mouth, where they were arrested by a most startling 


apparition. A corvette lay anchored in mid-stream be- 
fore them. Sauvole gives only a succinct account of 
what followed. Iberville, in his report to the Minister 
of Marine, enlarges upon it, from subsequent interviews 
with his brother. One of the pirogues was sent to 
speak the corvette. It proved to be English. Bien- 
ville now advanced in his pirogue, and went aboard. 
The captain, named Banks, turned out to be a quondam 
prisoner of Iberville's, captured in Hudson Bay, and 
consequently an acquaintance of Bienville's, to whom 
he gave all the information desired about himself an 1 
his ship, confessing frankly that he was in search of the 
Mississippi. It was, at last, the English expedition of 
which Iberville had received warning, and against which 
he had held himself so sedulously on the alert. This 
was one of three vessels, loaded with emigrants, 
which had, in truth, set sail from London to make an 
establishment upon the banks of the Mississippi, about 
the very time in October that Iberville with his squadron 
sailed from Brest. They had passed the winter in Car- 
olina, where the greater number of the colonists, pleased 
with the climate, had chosen to remain. In May, one 
ship had returned to England, leaving the other two to 
pursue the object of the expedition, — the search for 
the mouth of the Mississippi. The captain said they had 
cruised fruitlessly for thirty leagues round about where 
the Relations of Tonty and Hennepin had placed it. 
Returning the length of the Gulf coast, he, Captain 
Banks, had found this stream, ir. i entered it ; and as it 
was the only large stream he had discovered in his 
cruise on that shore, he doubted not it was the Mis- 
sissippi. Bienville, the Relations say, convinced the cap- 


tain that the river they were in, and all the surrounding 
country, were in the possession of the king of France, 
who had force sufficient at hand to protect his rights. 
Bienville had the satisfaction of seeing the captain assent 
to his representations, and finally raise anchor and head 
the corvette down stream. The " English Turn " in the 
Mississippi still commemorates the bend of the river 
where the young lieutenant and his five Canadians ob- 
tained this triumph over the Englishman.^ Bienville 
remained on the corvette, conversing with the captain, 
and having sufficient intercourse with another personage 
aboard to attract the suspicious distrust of the English 
officers. This personage had made himself known to 
the young Canadian as a French Protestant, by name 
Second, an engineer, and one of the band of emigrants 
who had disembarked in the English king's possession 
of Carolina. He assured Bienville that he and all the 
French refugees with him wished with their whole hearts 
that the king of France would permit them to establish 
themselves in Louisiana under his domination ; he an- 

1 The falsehood usually attributed to Bienville, his assurance 
to Captain Banks that the river he was on was not the Missis- 
sippi, which lay farther to the east, appears to be an afterthought 
of the captain's, and no wise an improvement upon the truth, 
certainly, if he was seeking self exculpation. Daniel Coxe, the 
son of the principal of the expedition, and the claimant of the 
valley of the Mississippi, does not mention it in his account of 
the transaction in his " Carolana," and it is not mentioned by 
Sauvole, Pennicaut, or by Iberville, to whom it would have been 
quite a natural and justifiable method of procedure with an 
enemy. It is first met in French in the journal of La Harpe, 
who came to Louisiana only in 17 18, and he evidently gives it to 
emphasize the gullibility of the Englishman. Sec Thomassy, 
"Geologic Pratique de la Louisianc," p. 6. 



swered for it that there wouki soon be a numerous colony 
of them settled, that they were unhappy under the rule 
of the English, who were not congenial to the French. 
He begged Bienville to take charge of his petition to 
the French king, giving his London and Carolina ad- 
dress, that the answer might be forwarded to him. Sau- 
vole does not mention this Protestant episode, but 
Iberville dwells upon it, as Bienville apparently dwelt 
upon it to him, as one would repeat an advantageous 
proposition which as a business man one wished, but 
dared not advise. 

After seeing the English corvette safe out of the 
river, the captain promising and threatening to return 
and make good his claim, Bienville paddled up the 
river to a portage through which he cut across to Lake 
Pontchartrain. He reached Biloxi early in October. 

Coincidentally, a visit from some Pascagoulas who 
brought with them a Choctaw, confirmed the seriousness 
of the English determination to encroach upon, if not 
take possession of, the southern end of the continent. 
The Choctaw (from the upper Alabama region) related 
that the English had already had dealings with them, 
and that two Englishmen were established among the 
Chickasaws (in the upper Mississippi district). This 
Davion the missionary had also discovered, the English- 
men having tried to buy beaver-skins from the French- 
men established among the Tunicas, and even making 
propositions to the Indians to kill the missionary, which 
they refused to do. 



At Biloxi, a fine August brought the trying summer 
to a close, and an early autumn put an end to the illness 
and discomfort of the men, — at least, Sauvole chronicles 
no complaint. The winter came on, terribly cold, the 
drinking-water freezing in the glasses. A new century 
was ushered in, whether with any festivities on the part 
of the little garrison, no chronicle is made ; but there is 
mentioned the great impatience of all for the arrival of 
Iberville, due daily. A boat was stationed at Ship 
Island on watch for him, and on the eve of Twelfth 
Night the firing of cannon signalled over the water the 
good announcement to the waiting ears. 

Sauvole hastened over to meet his commander with his 
report, — a good one, despite all his gloomy forebodings ; 
but four men dead, with all the illness, dissipation, and 
privation. Iberville returned with him to the fort, where 
he was received with salvos of artillery and with " all 
possible joy," as the loyal Pennicaut writes. Iberville 
indeed came like a belated Santa Claus to his colonial 
family. To Sauvole and Bienville he brought the royal 
commissions of their new rank, — the latter insuring a 
pay of twelve hundred francs per annum. For the colony 
there were supplies, money, and reinforcements, — most 
notably, as he no doubt would have ranked them, sixty 
Canadian coureurs de Ims, who had served with him 


in Hudson Bay, a Jesuit priest to replace the Rdcollet 
father, and a royal commissary, who was to rank second 
only to Sauvole. There accompanied him also the Sieur 
Le Sueur, a geologist, with thirty workmen, who came to 
exploit a certain fabulous hill of green earth on the 
upper Mississippi ; the after-celebrated Juchereau de St. 
Denis, a distinguished Canadian and a connection of 
Iberville's wife ; the Sieur de Boisbriant also, celebrated 
afterwards in the annals of the colony ; and Antoine Le 
Moyne de Chateauguay, his seventeen-year-old brother. 

Iberville's stay at Biloxi was only long enough to 
select sixty men and make his preparations for another 
trip up the Mississippi. 

Instead of risking another voyage through the mouth 
of the Mississippi, the two barges and three pirogues 
were carried into Lake Pontchartrain to the litile bayou,^ 
about four miles below Iberville Bayou (Manchac), which 
lead to the short portage into the Mississippi, shown by 
the guide during the other expedition. The barges evi- 
dently could not get through the sluggish shallow marsh 

^ A glance at the map of the lower Mississippi will show the 
very indefinite character of such a geographical indication. It 
would seem that the little bayou in question and the short port- 
age must have been the Bayou St. John and the well-known In- 
dian high road (which would now lead directly through New 
Orleans), preferred by early travellers as the safest and surest 
*way into the Mississippi. Dupratz says he came through the 
Bayou Schoupic, and that the deserted village of the Quinipissas 
was on the bank of the Bayou St. John. Iberville puts this vil- 
lage (as seen above) a league and a half above his portage. 
Above or below Bayou St. John, Schoupic, or Ligonyon, or any 
other of the innumerable bayous of the region, it is evident that 
the ground traversed was in or very near the present limits of 
New Orleans. 


rtream. They were left in the lake, and Iberville and 
Bienville proceeded in their pirogues. Iberville de- 
scribes the portage as about a league and a half long, one 
half of the distance knee-deep in mud and water, the 
other in good condition, the country covered partly by for- 
est, partly by canebrake. He and Bienville visited a de- 
serted village of the Quinipissas about a league and a half 
above their portage, upon a spot which was inundated 
very little or not at all. The abandoned fields were grown 
up with trees already two feet in circumference. Clear- 
ing a little space, Iberville made the first planting of 
sugar-cane in Louisiana ; but the seed brought from St. 
Domingo was sour and yellow, and so came to nought. 

The whole month of January was consumed in looking 
for a site for the proposed fort. There seemed none 
secure from overflow. Bienville was sent up to the 
Bayougoulas to learn from them what spots on the lower 
bank of the river were above high- water mark. Iberville, 
rejoining the barges, returned to his vessels, where he 
waited until the messenger brought word that Bienville 
was coming down the river with the Bayagoula chief, 
who would point out all the unoverflowed spots within 
fifteen leagues of the river's mouth. 

The transport was put under way, and during a truce 
of the winds, safely entered the river. Three days after- 
wards, at midnight, the two brothers met on a point of 
land on the right bank (ascending) eighteen leagues 
from the mouth, which, the Bayagoula chief assured 
them, was not subject to inundation. 

It was indeed one of the most attractive points in the 
region. An edge of open forest, six hundred paces 
wide, extended along the river bank for about three 


leagues below them. Two leagues above was a forest of 
cypress, or cedars of Lebanon, as Iberville calls them, — 
the very wood for pirogues, and where pirogue-making 
was immediately commenced. Behind was an extended 
view of prairie land, studded with clusters of trees. 

Work was begun at once upon the fort, planned to be 
a stout defence in case of emergency, — a twenty-eight 
foot square log building two stories high, machicolated. 
The powder-magazine was elevated five feet above the 
ground, and well banked with earth, top and sides. 

About the middle of February, — an exceedingly cold 
February, even Iberville remarks, — while the clearing, 
cutting, and building were in busy progress, there arrived 
of an afternoon a visitor than whom no one on the con- 
tinent could have been more useful or more welcome 
to Iberville ; this was Henry de Tonty, the friend and 
companion, and without question the most unselfish, 
loyal, straightforward, and intelligent pioneer France 
ever possessed in America. He had heard of the settle- 
ment at the mouth of the river, and came from his post 
on the Arkansas to make proffer of his services. A band 
of Canadians, loaded with peltry, from the country of the 
Illinois and Tamaroas accompanied him, attracted by 
the offers which Sauvole had disseminated among the 
Indians, especially to catch wandering coureurs de bois 
and attach them to the enterprise. Iberville immedi- 
ately engaged them in his service, and found them a most 
providential reinforcement, as there was considerable 
sickness among his men, not a few dying of fevers con- 
tracted at St. Domingo, or most likely upon the spot. 

Tonty here had the opportunity to discover the fraud- 
ulent manuscript imposed as his upon Iberville, and also 


to rectify some of the latter's apprehensions gathered 
from the clerical Relations. 

Iberville's projects up the Mississippi included an ex- 
ploration of Reii River, whose unknown course seemed 
to offer an inlet for enterprise against the Mexican gold 
and silver mines of the supine Spaniards. Tonty agreeing 
to accompany him, the finishing of the fort was left to the 
Canadian, Sieur de Maltot, and they set out, Bienville in 
advance, a forerunner to prepare ways and means. 

At the portage of the Ligonyon (called for a short in- 
terval Ravine le Sueur), they came up with the geologist 
laboriously getting his men, boats, and provisions through 
from the lake into the river which was to conduct him to 
the chimerical treasures of green and blue earth piled 
into hills in the country whence it took its source. Iber- 
ville expresses his scepticism of this as well as the other 
schemes which an inherent love of the marvellous seemed 
to push France into fathering. 

Arrived at the village of the Bayagoulas, the news 
of the English arming the Chickasaws was confirmed. 
Iberville's first plan was for Tonty, on his return to the 
Illinois, to entrap the English leaders into coming among 
the Tunicas, with the bait of trading with them, to arrest 
them and hand them over to a detail of Canadians, who, 
it is presumed, were competent to deal with them. But 
the English were found to be too numerous for this 
stratagem to be practically successful, and Iberville had 
to console himself with the promised determination to 
arm the Choctaws and unite all the Indians south of 
the Chickasaws in a solid confederacy for the French. 

He had little difficulty in reconciling the Houmas with 
the Bayagoulas and inducing the former to return the 


prisoners captured in so high-handed a manner. Speak- 
ing in their own manner to them, he says he expressed 
great grief and indignation at their making war upon the 
Bayagoulas, after the alliance so solemnly made between 
them all the year before. The Houmas demanded that 
the Bayagoulas should come to them to smoke the 
calumet of peace, fetching presents to ransom the prison- 
ers, as the custom was. Iberville ofTered himself as proxy 
for his friends, and so the matter was concluded. The 
Houma village was reduced to half of the population 
of the previous year by an epidemic of the flux ; but 
there was an accession to it of a band of forty " Little " 
Tensas, as they were called, — a volunteer corps to 
assist the Houmas against the Bayagoulas. These 
Little Tensas inhabited generally a territory about three 
leagues west of the Houmas, but they were an errant 
tribe which lived entirely upon game. It was some of 
them who, the year before, had told Iberville about Red 
River and the number of tribes living along its course, 
professing to have been through the country and to 
know it well ; and it had been Iberville's intention to 
secure guides from them. But now, do what he could, 
he could induce none of them to accompany him as far 
as the Caddodaquios. They now protested that Red 
River was rafted and completely unnavigable, and that 
the only road they knew to the Caddodaquios and Nat- 
chitoches, the only one they ever travelled, was by land 
and through the village of the " Big" Tensas, above the 
Natchez. Although from its mouth Red River ap- 
peared to Iberville to be easily navigable, he did not 
dare, in face of the many ramifications ascribed to it, 
venture in it without a guide. He determined to pro- 


ceed to the Big Tensas village, and from there journey 
overland to the Caddodaquios and Natchitoches, follow- 
ing Red River, if he then desired it, on his return to 
the Mississippi, in pirogues which they could easily con- 
struct by the way. Giving the Houmas a half-bushel 
of com, some peas, and some orange, apple, and cotton 
seed to plant (the first cotton-seed planted in Louisiana), 
he gathered together his men, scattered hunting over 
the country, and sent for the pirogues waiting for him 
at the mouth of Red River, and set them all in motion 
up the Mississippi towards the Natchez and Tensas. 

The great stream still meandered before them, twist- 
ing like a huge paraph over the country. The pirogues 
paddled against the monotonous yellow cuiTents which 
offered no novelties to them, except the ceaseless de- 
struction and reconstruction of a monster water-way at 
work, — the freshly verdured batture formations against 
one bank, the caving land of the other, with its half- 
submerged forests peering above the thick waters. Slow 
collecting rafts filling up one curve, the deflected cur- 
rents hurrying away to the next point to gnaw out an- 
other. From time to time a patient fisherman would 
be seen crouched on his little moored gunwale catch- 
ing, when luck was with him, catfish and minnows, or 
carp and sardines, as Iberville called them. Here, one 
hundred and twenty-five leagues from the sea, they came 
across the innocent causes of Iberville's tragic perplexities 
and of the apparent priestly mendacities — the two little 
half-league-large islands which formed the three branches 
or forks of the Relations, but placed by them sixty-five 
leagues farther down. 

At the Natchez landing, eighteen leagues above the 


Houmas, a messenger was sent to apprise the chief of 
their coming. He responded by sending his brother, 
escorted by twenty-five men, with the calumet of peace 
and an invitation to the village. Climbing to the sum- 
mit of the steep bluff, then covered with magnificent 
forest trees, Iberville gazed upon the beautiful rural 
landscape which he proposed affixing to the picturesque 
kingdom of France, — a landscape upon which after%vards 
French rapine was to bring a washing of blood. " It was 
a country," he says, " of plains and prairies, filled with 
little hills and grove;? of trees, oaks some of them, with 
roads intercrossing from village to village and from 
cabin to cabin, — a country resembling France not a 

Half way to the village the chief appeared, cere- 
moniously advancing, surrounded by his body-guard, 
— twenty large, well-made men. He was rather a 
thin man, about five feet three or four inches, with an 
intelligent countenance, and, according to Iberville, he 
was the most absolute Indian monarch he, Iberville, 
had ever seen. At that time he was suffering from the 
flux which shortly afterwards killed him. 

All the men of the tribe appeared to be handsome 
and well-made, but they were very lazy, — very civil, 
but very lazy. 

The village differed from the other villages visited, 
only in being handsomer and better built. The cabin 
of the chief stood eminent on a spacious mound ten 
feet high ; facing it was the temple ; around, in an oval, 
were placed the cabins, enclosing a handsome open 
space. A small running stream near by furnished the 


Iberville found a letter there from Montigny, who had 
returned to his Tensas mission but three days before. 
The priest stated that he had visited all the cabins of 
the Natchez, about four hundred, scattered over eight 
leagues of country, along the course of the creek, and 
that he had baptized one hundred and eighty children, 
from one to four years old. 

Iberville presented the chief with a gun and ammuni- 
tion, a capote, a blanket, and the usual quantum of 
hatchets, knives, beads, and small articles for distribu- 
tion. The chief presented the French officers each with 
a small white cross and a pearl, which, with the cons icus- 
ness of the expectations in France founded upon pearl 
fisheries in Louisiana, Iberville treats with rather ungra- 
cious criticism. He remarks that the Natchez language 
was very different from the Houma, but that he was en- 
abled to converse with the chief through his brother 
Bienville, who was beginning to make himself understood 
in Bayagoula, Houma, Chickasaw, and Colapissa. 

Leaving Bienville and the rest of the party at the 
Natchez to get and pound com for the expedition, 
Iberville set out with six men in one pirogue for the 
great village of the Tensas, to make the other arrange- 
ments for the overland journey. A day and a half 
brought him to the Tensas landing. TJie pirogue, with 
two men, was left at the river, while Iberville with the 
other four struck out through the woods in search of the 
lake where they were to find pirogues to reach the vil 
lage. But the guide lost his way, and the party, having 
no provisions with them, passed a supperless night in 
the woods. In the morning they were more successful. 
They discovered the lake, and in answer to their gun- 


shots,, they found four Indians awaiting them with a 
pirogue. The lake, a mere curving branch of water, 
cut off, at a distant date, through some caprice, by the 
Mississippi, was not more than twelve miles long to a 
mile and a half wide.* Paddling through two leagues 
of it, they reached at midday the village, — a group of 
about a hundred and twenty cabins, scattered along the 
shore, extending some six miles, the greater number 
concentrated towards that end of the lake which ap- 
proached nearer to the Mississippi, and opposite a small 
outlet, along which also were built some cabins. The 
tribe at one time had been very numerous, but at the 
time of Iberville's visit, like all the Indian tribes he men- 
tions, seemed to be suffering a rapid and fatal decrease, 
and there were barely three hundred warriors left. 

The missionary Montigny, fired with zeal by recent 
encouragement from his savage flock, was, with his two 
French assistants, busy building a church and a dwelling 
for himself, — indulging, no doubt, in those prophetic 
visions of the nearing dawn of Christianity, which must 
have furnished the only roseate hue to the future horizon 
of such as he. But like too many of such visions, this 
was a baseless fabric, to be destroyed by a demonstra- 
tion of barbaric fanaticism which the French spectators 
relate with horror. 

* The relative positions of Lake Tensas and the Mississippi 
River furnish Thomassy (" Geologie Pratique de la Louisiane ") 
with an important fact in favour of his argument on the gradual 
displacement of the river from the west to the east. In Fran- 
quelin's map of the voyages of La Salle, 1684, Tensas Lake is rep- 
resented as communicating directly with the river. In 1700, 
Iberville found it one league to the west of the river. In 1859, 
Thomassy placed it several miles to the west. 


A terrific storm broke out during the night Light- 
ning struck the old temple, setting it afire. It was con- 
sumed entirely. With a readiness and certainty which 
would have done credit to his Christian competitor, the 
venerable Indian patriarch who performed the functions 
of high priest, attributed the disaster to divine wrath be- 
cause, after the recent demise of their king, the Tensas, 
under the teachings and influence of the French priest, 
and in obedience to their own satisfaction, had omitted 
the human sacrifice enjoined by their religion. It was 
the opportunity of all others to crush a rival and restore 
a supremacy. Standing by the flames, raging through 
the elemental chaos of rain, wind, thunder, and light- 
ning, the savage interpreter of divine justice, raising his 
voice to a dominating distinctness, called repeatedly: 
** Women ! bring your children and offer them in sacri- 
fice to the Great Spirit to appease him ! " Five devotees 
responded, and five pappooses, strapped in their swad- 
dling clothes, were thrown into the heart of the burning 
pile. Even in their primitive intelligence, this was re- 
garded as the supreme eflbrt of human sacrifice, and the 
five mothers from henceforth were sanctified and con- 
secrated in the community. Proud of his victory, the 
old priest led them in triumph to the cabin of the new 
king, where the old men of the village assembled to do 
them honour, praising, caressing them, clothing them in 
white mantles woven from the fibre of the bark of the 
mulberry-tree, and fastening long plumes in their hair. 
The adulatory attentions continued for eight days, dur- 
ing which, day and night, they sat in state before the 
king*s cabin, maintaining their publicity during the dark 
hours by singing aloud, and every afternoon formed the 


principal feature in the dedicatory services which were 
to change the cabin into a temple. Iberville, who had 
gone to the Mississippi to meet Bienville and his party, 
and so had missed the burning of the temple, returned 
in time for the dedicatory ceremonies which took the 
form of a rude, symbolical represent ntion of the recent 
disaster and expiatory sacrificial act, — a sacrificial play, 
as it were. 

Every afternoon of the eight days, about six o'clock, 
three youths, about twenty years of age, fetched a fagot 
apiece, which was thrown down before the door of the 
new temple. The temple-keeper, an old man, would 
pile them into a pyre, and going inio the temple, would 
reappear with a fagot of canes lighted from the sacred 
fire within. The patriarchal priest, observing from a 
distance^ would then slowly advance with a solemn step, 
chanting, and beating an accompaniment with a stick 
upon a leathern cushion which he carried. He was fol- 
lowed by the five sacrificing mothers, bearing bundles 
of wet moss. As the procession approached, the tem- 
ple-keeper applied his torch to the fagot-heap. The 
priest led the way, chanting three times around the 
blaze ; the women then threw themselves upon it, and 
beat it out with their bundles of wet moss. The priest 
then led them to the river, where they bathed in public. 
Vanity seems to have grown also under the stimulant of 
faith, and to have become an accessory, if not before, 
after the fact ; for during the procession around the fire, 
Iberville detected symptoms of levity, and desire to 
laugh and talk among the fair postulants, for which the 
old priest severely reprimanded them. 

A pain in his knee that disabled Iberville from walk- 


ing, vetoed his being of the Red River expedition. He 
confided its command to Bienville. After seeing him 
start off with his Ouachita guide, six Tensas, and twenty 
Canadians, he made his preparations to return to the 
mouth of the river. Montigny, with his attendants and 
possessions, accompanied him. Against such a mani- 
festation of diabolical interference and such a revival of 
pagan zeal and enthusiasm as he had witnessed, the 
missionary felt powerless and hopeless. The Indian 
medicine-man had completely routed him and his hu- 
mane doctrines. Among the Natchez, weather per- 
mitting, he calculated upon a more grateful harvest. 

The Natchez chief lay dying, and in the great distress 
of his people, Iberville had no opportunity for consulta- 
tion about the stand to be taken against the English- 
inspired Chickasaws. But Tonty, who did not take his 
departure until they reached the Houmas' landing, was 
charged with presents for the Tunicas and for the 
Chickasaw chief, who was shortly to visit the Tunicas, 
and who was to be made to understand through the 
Tunica missionary, Uavion, that the French were a fix- 
ture at the mouth of the river, and that it would be not 
only more profitable to trade with them than with the 
English, but that in case of a hostile attitude by the 
Chickasaws, the Indians of the lower country would be 
armed with guns and united in one band against them. 
Iberville made a short stop at the Bayagoula village ; 
leaving it at noon one day, he reached the fort the 
next evening at nine o'clock, his baik canoe accomplish- 
ing the distance, one hundred and twenty-six miles, in 
thirty-three hours. 

The work upon the fort had advanced but slowly, 


most of the men having been and being ill ; the sowings 
of corn and peas, however, had come up finely. The 
next day Iberville visited a little stream which ran to the 
rear of the fort, hoping lo find it a practicable passage 
through to his vessels in the Sound. He sent Sieur 
Duguay with three men in a canoe lo explore it, while 
he in a canoe with two men tried a portage two leagues 
above the fort, on which he had also ventured some 
hope. But he found it so difficult that he was obliged 
to give it up. He returned to the fort in a pretty hot 
fever, he says. The fever, continuing, retained him in 
the insalubrious spot ; and in fact it was this tropical ill- 
ness, caused by over-exertion and exposure, which made 
the breach in the hardy Canadian's constitution through 
which death, in the same latitude, finally entered. He 
sent to Sauvole for the bulls, cows, calves, hogs, fowls, 
to stock the new establishment, and for the other neces- 
sary provisions. In default of communicating bayou or 
portage, he chronicles with satisfaction that the transport 
brought them fiom Ship Island through the mouth of 
the river safely and quickly in thirty-six hours. The 
transport also brought a budget of news from Biloxi and 
Ship Island. 

De la Riola, the governor of Pensacola, to impose 
upon or intimidate the French, had paid a visit to Ship 
Island and Biloxi in all the panoply of his power, in 
a frigate of twenty-four cannon and one hundred and 
forty men, accompanied by a smaller vessel of six can- 
non and forty men, and a sloop armed with six swivel- 
guns and twenty men. He had come, he majestically 
informed the French commander, in pursuance of the 
orders of the Viceroy of Mexico, to drive the French 


away, supposing them to represent merely some trading 
community ; but as they were, on the contrary, repre- 
sentatives of a crowned head, his orders were not to 
molest them. 

Surg^res, Sauvole, the officers, and men proved equal 
to the occasion. The ponderous and unwelcome visitors 
were received with honours, and regaled with a gener- 
osity that must have disappointed as well as astonished 
them. No Pensacola revelations of weakness, dissatis- 
faction, and misery took place at Ship Island or Biloxi. 
During the visit, which lasted four days, the garrison 
were kept in gala uniform and on gala rations. Traces 
of sickness and privation were sedulously hidden ; com 
was banished from sight ; while the jealously guarded 
stores of wine and flour were lavished with contemptu- 
ous prodigality. Laughter and gayety flowed with the 
ease and abundance of spontaneity from the highest to 
the lowest, and for the nonce the little obscure anchor- 
ages gave a sparkle of that glitter which befitted a royal 
post of that dazzling splendour, the Sun-King. 

Despite his brilliant entertainment, however, the 
Spanish functionary, in taking leave, delivered a formal 
written protest against the establishment, which he said 
the French had made in the possessions of the king of 
Spain, contrary to the good understanding which existed 
between the two Crowns ; and he begged the French to 
make no further settlements on that coast until he had 
communicated with his Spanish Majesty, which he pur- 
posed to do directly. He sailed away as majestically as 
he had arrived. But as a frugal ancestor of the Sun- 
King was fond of remarking, " Quand orgucuil marche 
devant, dommage marche derri6re." 



— It was seven days later, Surgferes had sailed to 
France, and De Ricouart, left in command of Ship 
Island, beheld an open boat approaching from the sea. 
The figures of men in distress were made out in it. It 
neared ; it landed ; the figures were the late guests, 

— the Spanish commander and two of his officers. 
Stripped to his vest, famishing with a five days' hunger 
and thirst whetted rather than assuaged by one small 
bit of chocolate, exhausted with five days* unremitted 
labour, and with want of sleep from a like period of 
combat with the mosquitoes, — De la Riola related his 
pitiful adventure. A gale had struck his fleet, and all 

— frigate, smaller vessel, and sloop — had been ship- 
wrecked on Chandeleur Islands. Everything, even to 
the wardrobes of the officers, had been lost. 

Again the French were equal to the occasion, or, as 
De Ricouart puts it, equal to the requirements of the 
honour of France upon such occasions. Messengers 
were despatched with the news to Pensacola; boats 
were sent to rescue the miserable crews perishing on 
the exposed sand-bars. Food, drink, and clothes were 
prepared, and De la Riola himself was equipped, cap- 
a-pie^ from the wardrobe of Iberville. Sauvole im- 
mediately made a visit of condolence, with offers of 
service and a present of handsome linen and a gun. 
De la Riola insisted upon departing at once and reliev- 
ing his hosts of the onerous charge of his entire equipage. 
But he was given to understand that he did the French 
injustice if he supposed he incommoded them in the 
least, and he was so pressed to remain until he and his 
men were completely refreshed and rested, that he con- 
sented. When he returned to Pensacola, part of the 


crew were transported in French boats, and all were 
provided with three weeks* refreshment. 

At the fort, Iberville's fever continued. He found 
that during high tide the water covered the land all 
around him. A south wind and heavy rains increased 
the inundation until it was two feet deep. When it 
subsided, the land was such a mass of mud that the men 
could not walk upon it. 

As soon as he was able, the sick commandant returned 
through the passes to his vessel, reaching it on the 15th 
of April. 

• It til •,»,. !•. ,» 



In the mean time, Bienville was prosecuting his jour- 
ney from the Tensas village to the limits of northwest- 
ern Louisiana. His journal is a fragment, a third of 
it, the last part, being undecipherable from damage by 
water; and it contains at best only a bare record of 
distance made ; but a few extracts from it will give an 
idea what the journey was, and will also serve to intro- 
duce the journalist, who appears for the first time in 
these Relations speaking in propria persotia : — 

" On the 22d of March I left the village at nine o'clock 
in the morning, with twenty-two Canadians, six Tensas, 
and one Ouachita. I marched all day in an overflowed 
country, the water half-way up the leg, or to the knees. In 
the evening I arrived at the bank of a little river about 
seventy paces' wide ?.nd v^xj «1ef*p, fc.ur and a hal'* leagues 
distant, to the v/est, fr'cfni t^ie Tensais'. ' rfouhd there some 
Ouachitas, v/ith. severiil piiogufcii pahlj'" leaded with salt. 
They were abitndoriingi their village to'g( • "and live^ -v/ith the 
Tensas. They had come from their home by little rivers 
navigable only in high water. 

" 23^. In the morning I crossed the river in the pirogue 
of the Indians. A half league from there, towards the west, 
I came to a river thirty paces wide, running north and 
south, which I had a great deal of trouble in crossing, not 
finding wood to make rafts, on which to cross the baggage." 


They usually swam or waded the streams, pushing 
the rafts before them, after firing off their guns to scare 
away the alligators, for fear of their attacking them in 
the water, which they find, en passant^ very cold. 

"The rain drove us to camp early. The Tensas de- 
serted on account of the bad roads and cold weather ; they 
do not like walking naked through the water, 

" 2\th. We set out at sunrise, the weather pretty cold. 
Three quarters of a league towards the west I came to two 
little rivers, which we crossed on trees that we threw over 
from one side to the other. Two leagues from there we 
came to a beautiful dry prairie, ... at the end of which 
was a river about forty paces wide, with a strong current 
and full of crocodiles. We crossed it with rafts. . . . 

" 25M. . . . Marched all day through woods, prairies, and 
savannas, always, without intermission, in water up to the 
knees, waist, and sometimes to the neck. A man of medium 
height is at great disadvantage in such countries. I see 
some of my men with the water only up to their waists, 
while I and others are nearly swimming, pushing our bun- 
dles before us on rafts, to keep them from getting wet. I 
camped at five o'clock in the evening, later than we wished, 
not finding any dry land except on the edge of a prairie, 
where there seemed to be good hunting, and where my 
men killed a beef. 

" idth. Remained in this good hunting place, where my 
men killed three deer and twelve turkeys, very fat. The 
' bloody flux ' attacked two of my men. 

" iTth. Set QX'X in the morning, leaving at the camp two 
sick men and ^ comrade to take care of them. A half 
league from the camp came to a river thirty-five paces 
wide. Crossed it with rafts. Two leagues from that river 
we came to another one twenty-five paces wide, which 
we also crossed. A quarter of a league from this river 


we came to a swamp a quarter of a league wide, which we 
crossed as we did the river. The water was very cold. 
We camped near by, on the border of a little lake. I cal- 
culate that we have made to-day four leagues, west-south- 
west, and are very tired. 

" 28///, Sunday. I arrived at the villaj^e of the Ouachi 
tas. After having gone two leagues and a half towards the 
west, we swam across a swamp five hundred paces broad, 
and traversed several prairies separated by strips of forest, 
and came to the village of the Ouachitas. This village is 
on the banks of the River Marne, or Sablonni^re [Red 
River], or rather on a branch of it. There are not more 
than five cabins there, and about seventy men. The river 
in this place may be about one hundred and eighty paces 
wide, and with as much current as the Mississippi. It 
seems to be deep. ... It rained all day. 

z^th. Rained until mid-day, when I set out with a 
Natciiito to guide me to hi.s village. We crossed a river* 
very broad and rather dry. i''vom there we fell into a wet 
country, which lasted a league and a half. We came to 
two little rivers very rapid, which we had to swim across ; 
the water in them was very cold. From there we traversed 
a swamp, at the end of which we met six Natchitoches 
who were going to the Coroas to sell salt. The last rains 
make the road very difficult for us. 

"31J/. Rained a part of the day. . . . Camped on the 
edge of a marsh. ... I am running short of provisions. 
Three of my men still continue to walk, but they have had 
fevers for two days. 

'''■April I. Rained in torrents all night, and this morn- 
ing until ten o'clock. . . . Our guide made us make a very 
large ditour to get around the swamp. . . . We crossed eight 
little rivers from ten to twelve paces wide, and very deep ; 

* The journal says three leagues wide. Evidently a mistake 
or an omission ; probably three quarters of a league is meant. 


we cut down trees for bridges; after which we came to 
several swamps and sloughs, in which the water came up 
to the waist and arm-pits. We walked until night without 
being able to find in all that time one arpent proper for a 
camping-ground. We see no traces of game, and are re- 
duced to two small, thin sagamities a day. 

" 2d. Rained all night and until two o'clock in the day. 
We were only able to make a league and a half to-day, be- 
cause of the bad roads through the swamp ; the water was as 
high as the waist at least. We came to six little rivers that 
we had to cross on narrow trees at least two feet under the 
water. The cane grows so thick in this country that we 
had to force our way through, which fatigued us very much, 
having passed the two last nights in the rain, failing t and 
large trees from which to strip the bark for cabins. . . . 

"3^, Rained all night in torrents. 

" $th. A half league from our camp we came to a swamp, 
a quarter of a league wide, where there was no bottom at 
six feet, and which was filled with wood, out of which we 
made rafts to carry our clothes. We were all day in cross- 
ing it. The water was very cold, several of my men were 
seized with the cold, and had to climb up in the trees and 
stay there to recover ; four passed nearly the whole day up 
in them, until rafts were sent to fetch them away. My men 
and I were never so tired in our lives. . . . This is good 
work for tempering the fires of youth. But we never stop 
singing and laughing, to show our guides that fatigue does 
not trouble us, and that we are different men from the 

" 6ih. We made three leagues and a half west-southwest, 
when we came to a large lake which we were obliged to go 
around, making two leagues and a half south-southeast. . . . 
We came to two cabins of Natchitoches, who took to flight 
on seeing us. Our guide reassured them, and they came to 
us ; they were well treated. We can only get to their vil- 


lage (they have but two villages) in pirogues, on account of 
the overflow of the river. 

" yth. I took two pirogues and left with the half of rriy 
men, . . . and arrived at the village of the Souchitionys, 
where I was well received." 

He describes this village as consisting of fifteen cabins 
in all. The river in front of it was very broad, filled 
with driftwood, and four fathoms deep in the high water. 

" I immediately sent the pirogues to fetch the rest of 
my men. . . . The Natchitoches are about a league distant, 
settled in cabins along Red River. 

"8M. All the men arrived. I put the Indians to work 
pounding corn. 

" <)th. Rained all day ; the women could not finish pound- 
ing the Indian corn. The warriors came to fetch me, and 
carried me on their shoulders into a kind of hall covered 
with palmettos, where they were all assembled to sing the 
calumet. I gave them and the chief of the Natchitoches 
a little present and a calumet of peace. 

" loth. Rained all day ; the chief promised me his son to 
conduct me to the Yataches. 

" wth. Easter ; left in pirogues to get over three leagues 
of bad country, north-northeast of the village. . . . 

"12M. Left our pirogues, and marched by land one 
league north, where we found a large lake six leagues 
long and a half league wide. . . 

" 13M. Crossed five little rivers, very close together, 
which flowed into this lake. Went to the north-north- 
east a league and a half, and fell upon a beaten track, 
which we followed, going five leagues and a half west- 
north west through open forests and rivers, finding springs 
and good hunting ; deer and turkeys. 

" 14/A. Continued to march. Came to a wooded swamp, 


very deep, and so long that our guides said that ^\ e should 
have to sleep four nights to get around it, but that about a 
league to the south there were three cabins on the bank of 
a river where there were pirogues. I put my men imme- 
diately to hollowing out a pirogue with our tomahawks. 
It was finished in five hours, large enough to hold six 
men, whom I sent to hunt for the Indian cabins and the 
pirogues. My men went hunting and killed six deer. 

" 15M. My men returned, bringing me the three pi- 
rogues, in which we embarked; and having made four 
leagues north-northeast, arrived on the other side of the 
lake, where we slept, 

" 16M. Left our pirogues and marched the length of the 
lake on a ridge of fine country and forest, where we killed, 
walking along, five deer, and made three leagues and a 
half to the northwest, crossing several hills pretty high. . . . 
We fired several shots to notify the Indians on the other 
side of a lake a league away, in the west-southwest. Five 
men came in a pirogue to discover who we were. Our 
guide called them and made them come to us. I em- 
barked in their pirogue with two of my men, leaving 
three Indians in my place. I went to their village, 
which was covered with water. They were living on 
scaffolds. There were fifteen cabins scattered around 
there of the tribe of the Nakasas, who live on the banks 
of Red River. . . . 

" 17M. I sent the pirogues for my men, who arrived at 
midday. I set out immediately in two pirogues to go to 
the Yataches, cutting across the woods the shortest way, 
the river having overflowed the country for two leagues' 
distance. Night overtook us opposite a little village of 
the Nakasas, — eight cabins on the left bank of Red 
River, where we slept. The river is a hundred and sixty 
paces wide at this place, and has as much current as the 

" 18M. Sent three pirogues to fetch the rest of my men. 


There is not an arpent of land around these cabins that 
is not overflowed. I found very little com. . . . 

" 19M. My men arrived. It was too late to go to the 
Yataches, which made the Indians very angry, making 
us understand that they had no more corn to give us. . . . 
All the Indians about here are tattooed around the eyes 
and on the nose, with three stripes on the chin. 

" 20M. We left in two old pirogues, the ends of which 
were stopped with earth ; . . . followed the river, which 
makes several bends; . . . arrived at the village of the 
Yataches. The cabins are scattered along the river for 
the space of two leagues. Upon our arrival, the Indians, 
having heard from an Indian arrived a little before us, 
that we wished provisions and pirogues, had hidden their 
corn and pirogues. I threatened them if they did not pro- 
vide us with them that I would remain there. I sent my 
men, at the same time, through the cabins. From here to 
the Caddodaquios, in summer, they calculate it as only two 
days' journey. 

*'2ij/. The Indians giving me to understand that they 
would give me the pirogues and provisions, to procure 
greater diligence I sent a man into each cabin with beads 
and other trifles to get ^.ha corn pounded promptly, and 
I went with two men in a pirogue to search for other 
pirogues the length of the liver. I only found three, 
which I bought with two hatchets apiece. The water 
fell to-day two feet. I went into forty different cabins 
the length of the river. 

" 22^. Embarked for the Caddodaquios, who are north- 
west from here. Although the Indians tell me that it will 
take ten days and ten nights to get there by the river, I 
cannot believe it, as it is only two days' journey by land, 
on which I cannot travel, on account of the high water; 
but being once started, the guides, seeing me determined 
to go there, will, as they have done in several places, tell 
me the truth about the distance. . . ." 


The Indians persisting in their assurance that it would 
take ten days and ten nights to reach the Caddodaquios, 
and as the current in the river was very strong, and he 
had only twenty days left to the date at which he was due 
at the vessels, besides several of his men being disabled 
from maladies resulting from their exposure and fatigue, 
Bienville adopted the resolution of turning back, and not 
endeavoring to reach the limit of the Spanish posses- 
sions. He was enabled, however, from questioning the 
Indians, to form an idea of what these possessions were, 
and where they were. Several Caddodaquios, a Naona- 
diche, and a Nadaco, whom he talked to, had been to 
a Spanish settlement five leagues and a half to the west 
of the Caddodaquios village, where there were white, 
black, and mulatto men, women, and children engaged 
in cultivating the land. This settlement was near the 
village of the Naonadiches. The Indians said that the 
Spaniards often came to the Caddodaquios on horse- 
back, to the number of thirty or forty, but that they 
never slept there. Bienville applied himself particularly 
to finding out if the Spaniards had any mines about 
there, or dug in the earth for silver. He was told no, 
that they only raised corn, that they had money like the 
pieces Bienville showed them, that they staked it on 
cards, some of them stamping their feet and tearing 
the cards up when they lost. 

On the 23d of April the party began to descend 
Red River in four pirogues. After this the journal 
becomes unintelligible. Cutting across the country, 
the party struck the banks of the Mississippi on the 
nth of May. Here continual rain arrested them four 
days, and they had to give three days to hunting, being 


entirely out of provisions. On the i8th of May they 
arrived at the sl'ips. 

Iberville mentions that they brought the news of 
further infractions of the peace so recently sworn by 
their allies. The Bayagoulas had arisen and massacred 
their village associates, the Mongoulachas, whose empty 
cabins and dispossessed fields had been filled by an im- 
portation of Colapissas and Sioux. Iberville says that 
the event gives him a good title to the greater portion of 
the Bayagoula village, for it belonged to the Mongou- 
bcha chief, who sold it to him, Iberville, with all his 
other villages near the sea 

Montigny and Davion, arriving about the same time, 
brought further disquieting confirmation of the tamper- 
ings of the English with the Indians to the north of the 
French ; and Tonty wrote of the efforts he had made 
in carrying out Iberville's purpose to frustrate these 
tamperings, by extolling the superior trading advantages 
the French could offer to these same Indians over the 

Iberville made one more visit to his new fort on the 
Mississippi, to regulate, as he said, a great many affairs 

Putting Bienville in command, he returned to Ship 
Island, and sailed for France on the 28th of May. 
Montigny, the priest, sailed with him. 



Bienville received no \vritten instructions from Iber- 
ville, as Sauvole did, and he seems to have made only 
verbal reports. But notwithstanding there is no refer- 
ence to, or publication of, any written correspondence 
between the brothers, one is made aware that even at 
this time there did exist between them, as between all 
the Canadians engaged in the Louisiana enterprise, 
Dvivate communication of some sort for the distribu- 
tion of intelligence, and a tacit agreement as to the 
furtherance of their policy on what the French called 
their projects. The governor of Canada openly ac- 
cused them of such a combination, which the French 
officers sent at different times to the colony, consecrated 
their small energies to denounce and thwart, although 
offering no better substitute by their own conduct. 

As has been said, Bienville kept no journal; but 
glimpses are obtained of him in his handsomely desig- 
nated fort of the Mississippi by the casual mention of 
others. Sauvole gives us the laconic statement of him 
that he had great trouble to subsist there. Father 
Gravier, of the Society of Jesus, who came there in 
1 70 1 from his post among the Illinois, to assist Father 
du Ru (a Jesuit brought from France by Iberville), 


makes a pen picture of the place which gives ample 
justification to Sauvole's comment ; and this was before 
the fever came, with the contribution of distress. This 
picture of what was accomplished, forms an interesting 
" pendant " to Iberville's letter to the Minister of Ma- 
rine, written on the same spot, detailing what he in- 
tended to accomplish, 

" There is no fort," writes Gravier, " nor bastion, in- 
trenchment, nor redoubt; all consists of a battery of six 
guns, six and eight pounders, on the brow of the bluff, and 
of five or six cabins separate from each other, and covered 
with palm-leaves. M. de Bienville has quite a nice little 
house there. I perceived on arriving that they began to 
cry famine, and that the breadstuffs began to run out, — 
which obliged me to take to Indian food, so as to be a 
burden to none, and to put up with corn, without meat or 
fish, till the vessels come, which are hardly expected before 
the end of March. . . . The wheat which had been planted 
here was already quite high when the inundations caused 
by a furious swell of the sea in August swept it away. The 
garden was hardly more successful, besides there being a 
great quantity of black snakes that ate the lettuces and 
other vegetables to the root. . . . The high waters overflow 
so furiously here that they have been four months in the 
water, often knee-deep outside their cabins, although the 
Indians had assured them that the place was never inun- 
dated. . . . They could not make the first settlement in a 
spot where there are more mosquitoes than here. They 
are here almost the whole year. In sooth, they have given 
us but little truce for seven or eight days ; at this moment 
they sting me in close ranks ; and in the month of Decem- 
ber, when you ought not to be troubled by them, there was 
such a furious quantity that I could not write a word with- 
out having my hands and face covered, and it was impos- 


sible for me to sleep the whole night. They stung me so 
in one eye that I thought I should lose it. The French of 
this fort told me that from the month of March there is 
such a prodigious quantity of them that the air was dark- 
ened with them, and that they could not distinguish each 
other ten paces apart. . . , The arrival of the vessels is 
expected from day to day.^ 

"As for Fort Biloxi," he goes on to say, "besides the 
air being better and the country more open, all kinds of 
garden vegetables can be raised there ; deer are near, and 
hunting good ; and to temper the heat, every day, an hour 
or two before noon, there comes from the sea a breeze that 
cools the air. Only the water is not very good ; it is a 
little spring that supplies them, for that of the bay is more 
than brackish, and is not drinkable. There are more than 
a hundred and twenty men in the fort." 

The superiority of his condition over that of Bienville 
does not seem to have been much of a solace to Sau- 
vole, — at least it does not appear so in his journal. He 
complains of the state of scarcity before the arrival of 
relief from France ; and in fact he seems to have suffered 
not only for lack of food, drink, health, and peace, but 
for lack of everything that could have made such a lot 
bearable to such a man. 

He struggled manfully through the instructions left by 
Iberville. St. Denis, with twelve Canadians, was sent to 
continue the exploration of the Red River country, with 
orders to push as far towards the west — consequently 
as close to New Mexico — as possible, where it was 
thought, if anywhere in Louisiana, gold and silver mines 
were to be found. A Spaniard was to guide the party, 
and Indians on the route, hostile to the Spaniards, were 

1 Mtinsell, vol. viii. 


to be carefully conciliated. Maps were to be made of 
the country, and any mines discovered (it is presumed 
no matter how near the Spanish lines), were to be im- 
mediately taken possession of, in the name of the king 
of France. Other work was provided in abundance for 
Biloxi, — the testing of the durability of the different 
forest woods, charred and uncharred, in the waters of 
the bay ; the gathering of pearls and of buffalo wool ; ^ 
the Mobile River was to be explored, and a visit of 
reconnoissance made to the much-talked-of Choctaws. 
But Sauvole found, as the summer came on, another 
and different programme laid down for him by a com- 
mander fully as arbitrary as Iberville. 

He chronicles once and awhile some little episode 
that makes a pleasant interpolation in the general monot- 
ony of his complaints. The Tohomes and Mobile 
Indians had come to ask help and protection in some 
of their inter-tribal disputes, and had gained both by 
furnishing supplies of corn. These savages described 
the lands lying along their river, the Mobile, as being 
the finest in the country, and expressed an ardent de- 
sire that the French should establish themselves upon 
them, being, of course, on bad terms with the Spaniards, 
who had killed one of their men. 

The long-expected vessel, the " Enflamm^e," at length 
arrived, the last of May ; but she appears to have 
brought only transitory relief, for a transport was sent 
not long afterwards to St. Domingo for both food and 

1 There was an idea, emanating from France, of herding the 
bufTalues in pens near Biloxi, and domesticating them for their 


Among the passengers of the " Enflamm^e " was one 
of the products of that sensational age, — Mathieu 
Sageau, a growth of the Hennepin order, although, be- 
ing a mere fictionist, a more harmless specimen. His 
story, a fantastically wondrous one, of a voyage up the 
Mississippi some twenty years before, and of his discov- 
eries thereupon of strange countries, peoples, customs, 
and treasures of precious stones and wealth galore, had 
found credence with Pontchartrain, who consigned him 
and a manuscript copy of his inventions forthwith to 
Sauvole, who received stringent orders to furnish twenty- 
four pirogues and one hundred Canadians, and expedite 
the glowing author with all haste into his realm of fancy. 
The Canadians, who knew their America better than 
Pontchartrain did his man, denounced the flimsy impos- 
ture to Sauvole, who also drew his own conclusions from 
the manuscript. Pontchartrain's orders were obeyed as 
to the making of the pirogues, but haste was otherwise 
made very slowly ; *' Sageau," writes Sauvole, in the 
humour of the situation, "acting the impatient all the 
time over the delay, convinced that if a start is not 
made by September, he will be forced, on account of the 
ice, to pass his winter with the Illinois." Shortly after- 
wards the arrival of Tonty is recorded. The rainy 
season set in, and sickness was not long in making its 
appearance, reaching its worst about the ist of July, and 
attacking particularly the Canadians, who were never- 
theless not a whit more orderly on that account. Sauvole 
waxes indignant over their mutinous conduct and indis- 
position to work. " I give my assurance that for the 
least task I have to go myself and get them out oi their 
beds, and I dare not quit them until they have finished 


what I wish accomplished." Such men, he says, cost 
too much ; and although he recognizes their vivacity, 
strength, and quickness when the task pleases them, 
French hirelings would be preferable. An Englishman, 
settled among the Chickasaws, had been killed and 
plundered by Canadian voyageurs ; three Canadians, 
travelling in Carolina, had, on the contrary, been well re- 
ceived by the English. Le Sueur arrived from the coun- 
try of the Sioux with the feluccas Iberville had loaned 
him, loaded with green earth from his mine, and 
several speciuiens of copper, which he shipped to 
France on the ** Enflamm^e." Sauvole cites this suc- 
cess with his Frenchmen in favour of the advantages 
of French against Canadian labour. 

Sauvole charged the priests going up the river to their 
mission work among the Natchez, to buy and send 
corn to him, and also to send an invitation to Father 
Marest to come down the river from his station among 
the Illinois, and assist in the work of the new settle- 
ment. The Jesuit Du Rhu, instead of endeavouring to 
alleviate the general moral and physical discomfort, 
seems to have made use of his spiritual powers in just 
the opposite effort, "showing himself," Sauvole writes, 
on this, as on other occasions, of a frivolous, unaccom- 
modating character, getting into trouble with all the 
officers, without being able to stand the least remon- 
strance, to such a degree, even, that ^ revenge himself 
(for such a remonstrance, presumably) he tried to draw 
the men away from the obedience due him, Sauvole. 

The " Enflamm^e " sailed for France. The transport, 
which had been sent to St. Domingo for food and 
medicine, brought only twenty-two barrels of flour, and 


a few of wine, — a supply which could not go far, partic- 
ularly in the overplus of men in the fort. Canadian 
voyageurs, to the number of sixty, had travelled down 
the river to the fort, with their accumulations of peltry, 
in hopes of trade and refreshment of their rude neces- 
sities ; but Sauvole, obeying the orders dictated by the 
growing jealousy and discontent of Canada towards the 
new colony, would not allow them to ship one hair by 
the " Enflamm^e." They paid, Sauvole says, their tri- 
bute to the epidemic, and although they did not deserve 
it, he could not help succouring them. 

Sauvole himself paid his tribute also to the epidemic. 
His last entry in the journal is dated Aug. 4, 1701. A 
simple paragraph by La Harpe and a curt mention by 
Iberville record that he died just eighteen days after- 
wards, on the 2 2d of August. One wishes some, if 
even conventional, term of regret or esteem for the 
young commander, some testimony to his appearance 
and character, if not to his work and influence ; but his 
own fragmentary journals and one coi aendatory sen- 
tence by Iberville are all that remain to fix the person- 
ality of the young ensign of the " Marin," '* the relative 
of M. de Polastron, commandant of St. Malo," whom 
we call the first governor of Louisiana. Bienville imme- 
diately left the fort of the Mississippi to take command 
at Biloxi ; Iberville carried his fever with him to France. 
It hung upon him some time in La Rochelle, delaying 
his report to the Minister of Marine. In January, 1701, 
he was in Paris three weeks, personally pushing the 
affairs of his establishment, and working upon a paper 
which, if its argument had succeeded with the French 
and Spanish Governments, would have placed those 


affairs indeed in a promising light, and changed the his- 
tory of the Gulf of Mexico. From the Spanish Govern- 
ment he wished to obtain the cession of Pensacola, and 
from the French such a regular system of fortification 
and arming of Indians along the Mississippi and its 
tributaries as would hold them beyond peradventure to 
France, and establish a solid bulwark of French domina- 
tion straight through the continent from Canada to the 
Gulf of Mexico, — a bulwark which, while it would bar 
the West to the English, would furnish such a vantage- 
ground of aggression into the East that it would be a 
mere question of time when they, the English, would 
be confined to a thin strip along the Atlantic coast. 

Whether Iberville, with his keen sagacity, saw that 
Canada was a foredoomed loss to France and gain to 
England, and he consequently sought to create an equiva- 
lent and counterpoise in the erection and solidification 
of a French, or at least French and Spanish, power in 
the southern end of the continent ; whether he really 
dreaded the encroachments of the English upon Alabama 
and Florida, the inability of the Spaniards to hold them, 
and their gradual yielding to the English, who, pushing 
west and south, would close in around the French pos- 
sessions of Louisiana until they would be left hang- 
ing, feebly dangling, as it were, from Canada upon the 
thread of the Mississippi, which could at any moment be 
severed in a score of places by the English or An- 
glo-Indians; whether, therefore, Iberville was loyally 
minded to the Spaniards, or, holding the Gulf, as he 
claimed, from La Salle's bay, on the coast of Texas, to 
Mobile in Alabama, with the intermediary mouth of the 
Mississippi and the good anchorage of Ship Island, he 


sought by specious reasons to obtain from the French 
king of Spain Pensacola, which would not only extend 
the French coast-line, but guarantee the French domi- 
nation over he Gulf of Mexico and supervision of the 
route of the Spanish galleons, and furnish a latch-key to 
Vera Cmz, — whether, as has been said, Iberville was 
loyally minded to the Spaniards, or intended to enact 
towards them the rdle of the English towards the French 
in Canada, is a question to be decided when his own life 
is written. 

His paper was submitted to the king of Spain, who 
in his turn submitted it to the Junta of War and the In- 
dies. The Junta, however, far from being convinced by 
the Canadian's careful enumeration and recapitulation 
of the reasons why Spain could not hold her possessions 
against the English, and of the great profit to be gained 
by ceding them to France, not only negatived the whoiC 
proposition, but characterized Iberville's possession of 
the mouth of the Mississippi as an usurpation, and ad- 
vised the offering to him and his men the simple choice 
of changing their allegiance to the Crown of Spain, or of 
being driven out as adventurers and interlopers, appeal- 
ing to the indisputable investiture accorded to the 
monarchy of Spain in the New World by the bull of 
Alexander VI. Pending the negotiation, Iberville loaded 
his frigate, the " Renommtfe," with the necessary supplies 
for Biloxi and the fort of the Mississippi, and made a 
memorandum for the Minister of Marine of what would 
be required for the proper arming and fortification of 
Pensacola, should the Spanish Government consent to its 
cession. Should it not consent, — which Iberville says 
would be an act of obstinacy on its part, and of great 


ignorance, for the English, with the aid of the inland 
Indians, would not fail to drive tlie Spaniards out of 
Florida, — he intended to erect a fortification at Mobile 
Bay, make peace with the Chickasaws, and arm them 
against the Indians. It was this latter alternative which 
he was forced to adopt. 

After waiting the utmost limit of time for the return of 
the " Enflammde," and the no less overdue answer from 
Spain, he received orders frorr- Versailles for immediate 

On this voyage Iberville was accompanied by his fifth 
brother and closest emulator in the family and his able 
coadjutor in the Hudson Bay expedition, Le Moyne de 
Serigny, lieutenant of marine in command of the " Pal- 
mier." On the 15 th of December they arrived before 
Pensacola, which the relaxing vigilance of the Spaniards 
permitted them to enter. De la Riola was absent in 
Vera Cruz ; but his sergeant-major came on board to pay 
his respects, and announced the death of Sauvole. 

Iberville in his turp announced the succession of the 
Duke of Anjou to the throne of Spain, — intelligence 
which was received with great joy. 

A boat was despatched to Biloxi with orders for Bien- 
ville at once to transport himself to Mobile with men 
and materials necessary to make an establishment there. 
Serigny and Chateauguay took over from Pensacola 
provisions, materials, and eighty men from the equipage 
of the " Renommde " and " Palmier " in small boats. 
With them went over at the same time to Mobile the Sieur 
de la Salle, a relation of the great explorer, and one of 
the first discoverers, he claims, of the Mississippi. Ap- 
pointed royal commissary of the colony, he turned out 


eventually, as will be seen, a royal mischief-maker. 
Iberville himself was unable to go to Mobile, being con- 
fined to his bed, ever since leaving St. Domingo, with an 
abscess in his side for which he had to submit to an 
operation that caused him great suffering. His activity, 
however, seems little diminished thereby. Every day of 
his journal is well filled with previsional and provisional 
orders and instructions, — building magazines for the 
royal property on Massacre Island; locating the new 
establishment on Mobile River, "sixteen leagues from 
Massacre Island at the second bluff," he writes to Bien- 
ville ; sending constant reinforcements of workmen from 
his crew ; directing the building of flat boats to lighter 
the freighted barges through Mobile Bay ; sending Tonty 
with aml^assadorial powers to the Chickasaws and Choc- 
taws ; and lending one of his boats to the Spaniards to 
send to Vera Cruz for relief. Pensacola was in its nor- 
mal state of misery ; Iberville writes that it could not be 
greater. The long-due ship of provisions from Vera Cruz 
was feared to be lost ; the garrison was utterly destitute 
of food, clothing, and money. Of the one hundred and 
eighty men composing it, sixty were convicts, and they, 
Iberville says,were the better men ; all were discontented, 
and desertions were of daily occurrence. When the 
French ships arrived, the governor and officers were 
worn out, having been on foot night and day from an 
indefinitely protracted apprehension of a mutiny. 



Bienville's garrison at Biloxi was in no better condi- 
tion physically than the Spanish garrison at Pensacola. 
One half of the men were actually ill or convalescent, 
and all were in dire distress for want of food, having 
had no other subsistence for three months than the 
small quantities of corn that could be bought from the 
Indians, and what game the hunters could kill. Bien- 
ville mustered a force of forty for the work at Mobile, 
where he, with his brothers Serigny and Chateauguay, 
displayed the same activity in executing Iberville's 
orders that the latter did in issuing them. 

Tents were erected on Massacre Island, and maga- 
zines hastily constructed to receive the provisions and 
goods discharged from the transports, while work was 
begun upon the fort and magazines at Mobile. All the 
men and material were landed at the first place, and fer- 
ried over to their final port, the shallows in the channel 
not permitting the free entrance of the vessels themselves 
into the bay. In reading of the contrarieties of wind and 
tide that befell them, of the sand-banks and shifting chan- 
nels, of the tedious and never-ceasing work of trans- 
portation, and of the unavoidable accidents and mishaps 
attending it, — one is not surprised at the recurring long- 
ing of the French and their increasing admiration for 
the commodious and easily accessible harbour of 


Iberville's wound healing in the course of two 
months, he was able to sail over to Mobile in the 
" Palmier," carrying the last instalment of provisions. 
One Spanish pilot had told him of a channel between 
Massacre Island and the little island to the south of it, 
Pelican Island. As soon as the wind permitted, he found 
this channel, and easily carried the " Palmier "through it 
over the bar, and anchored in Mobile Harbour, which he 
praises as having a depth of thirty feet, and protection 
from north and south wind. The channel, he wrote, 
although difficult of entrance, would be easy to defend ; 
but he was not sure that a south wind might not shift 
the bar at the mouth, — which really occurred some ten 
years afterwards, practically closing it. 

He found the transport, under command of M. de 
Marigny, engaged in trips between Biloxi and Mobile, 
stranded on the shore, where it had been driven from 
its anchors by a south wind. After working at it for 
some time, he left it to await relief from a high tide. At 
Massacre Island he sharply and promptly defined M. de 
la Salle's duties and position for him, the royal commis- 
sary having begun the exercise of his functions with 
more zeal than discretion ; Iberville explaining that he 
did not wish affairs to come to the same pass as during 
the administration of M. de Sauvole, when the com- 
missary pretended to command everything and every- 
body, even to the commander himself. He put a 
garde magazin in charge of the stores, who was to 
deliver goods to M. de la Salle upon an order from 
the commander. Crossing the bay, he entered the 
mouth of the river, and ascended it to the site of the 
new establishment, where he found Bienville busily at 


work clearing the forests, building the fort and a huge 
flat-bottomed boat, which was to do ferriage duty be- 
tween Mobile and Massacre Island. 

Iberville speaks with pleasure of the beautiful nature 
of the country, of the high banks, the magnificent 
forests of valuable trees, — white and red oak, laurel, 
sassafras, and nut trees, and particularly the' pines, the 
finest mast-timber in the world. He ordered a mast 
cut for the " Palmier," which had lost hers in a thunder- 
storm off St. Domingo. 

Bienville was sent to explore the Mobile River, begin- 
ning with the little islands that studded its mouth. He 
found upon them only abandoned habitations of Indians 
driven away by the same war against the Couchaques 
and Alabamas, which had scattered so many of its evi- 
dences over the beautiful country. The guide showed 
Bienville the island which held concealed the figures of 
the ancient gods, renowned among all the tribes round- 
about, — the gods to whom the Mobilians used to come 
yearly with sacrificial offerings. The myth was that they 
had descended from heaven, and to touch them was to 
suffer the penalty of instant death. It took no less a 
bribe than a gem to induce the Indian guide to reveal 
the site of the destroyed sanctuary. He did it by walk- 
ing backwards, and would not approach nearer than ten 

Bienville searched until he found the figures on a 
hillock near the village, among the canes. There were 
five of them, — a bear, an owl, a man, a woman, and a 
child, made of plaster, the three latter fashioned in the 
similitude of the Indians of that country. Bienville 
brought them to Iberville, who thought them to be the 


work of some of De Soto's Spaniards. He kept them by 
him and took them to France with him, — much to the 
surprise of the Indians, who could not account for his 
temerity or continuance in hfe. 

Six leagues above the new establishment were the 
Mobile Indians ; two leagues above them the Tohomes, 
or " little chief" Indians. Their villages were spread out 
over both banks and the islands of the river, in clusters 
of from four to twelve cabins or families. Most of their 
land overflowed during high water for a period of about 
ten days. 

At the time of the settlement of the French, the two 
tribes numbered only about three hundred and fifty 
men ; but the many deserted habitations all around 
spoke of an epoch when the river flowed through a 
thick population of them, — an epoch which the French 
could but regret, for they appear most estimable in 
the accounts of Iberville : a laborious, frugal people, 
cultivating their lands industriously, and keeping up 
their peaceful intercourse one with another by means 
of cleared roads through the forests from village to vil- 
lage. They it was who furnished the granaries of the 
French for years, and indeed proved their mainstay 
during the famines which the uncertain communications 
with France inflicted periodically upon the colonists. 

The famines of the French were, however, periodic 
and temporary, and, as they say, they could always 
manage ; the hunger of the Spaniards was chronic, and 
they seem to have had no resource but borrowing from 
the French, who were thus, from the time of their settle- 
ment in the country, kept in the embarrassing position 
of having to grant politically and courteously what they 


detested granting at all, and so of maintaining for years 
a rival whom they despised, in a locality they coveted, 
— a locality of which, without the charity of the French, 
famine would have time and time again forced the aban- 
donment. Iberville's journal records that although 
fifty barrels of flour had already been given to him, the 
gover*^or of Pensacola now wrote asking for more pro- 
visions, — in fact, Iberville says the Spaniards lived upon 
him for two months. The journal omits none of the 
details that fill up the thoughts and days of the busy 
governor, — sending the boats to buy corn of the 
Tohomes and Mobilians ; the rain ; the return of the 
boats ; the laying out of the prospective city. Four 
days were consumed in aligning the streets and in 
making allotments. M. de la Salle, the notary, and 
the four families brought from France, were provided 
for, and the latter put to clearing land. The tanner 
whom Iberville had also brought from France, wandered 
impnidently in the woods, and lost his way. The usual 
search was made, with no results. Fifteen days later, a 
hunter discovered the unfortunate wretch sitting at the 
foot of a tree on a beautiful bank near a trench he had 
dug, at the head of which he had erected a cross bear- 
ing the history of his tragic adventure. He no longer 
resembled a man, the journal says, having for twelve 
days had no food but water. 

One day, some forerunners from Tonty announced 
his speedy arrival with four Choctaw chiefs and three 
notable Chickasaw warriors ; and all other interests sub- 
sided in that of preparing an effective reception for 
them. The party arrived at night. By eight o'clock 
the next morning the presents for the two great rival 


savage powers were selected and exposed \ two hun- 
dred pounds of powder, two hundred and eight pounds 
of balls, two hundred pounds of bird-shot, twelve guns, 
one hundred hatchets, one hundred and fifty knives, 
with caldrons, beads, flints, awls, and other important 
articles to the Indians, that swelled the total to a con- 
siderable and tempting bait. With it before their eyes, 
the Indians seem to have experienced little difficulty in 
coming to terms with the donors. Iberville assembled 
them in a solemn conclave, and with Bienville as inter- 
preter, made them a speech exposing with frankness 
the policy he intended adopting towards them, but 
grinding his lens to suit their simple eyes. He painted 
the insidious designs of the English, arming tribe against 
tribe, until the extermination of its natural defenders 
left the country at their mercy. He counted up before 
them the number of Indians who had been killed, and 
the still more unfortunate ones, the prisoners, sold into 
slavery by the English. He told them, he says, several 
other things also calculated to destroy their estimation 
of the English, and insure their driving them out. 

Per contra^ he made the eulogium of the French, and 
painted the glittering benefits to be derived by the In- 
dians from their friendship, — trade and merchandise, 
justice and protection without stint, and above all, no 
more bloody inter-tribal wars. Sliould obtuseness or 
craft of Indians or English defeat the arguments thus 
eloquently coloured, should the Chickasaws eventually not 
become friends of the French and enemies of the Eng- 
lish, Iberville threatened the representatives of that tribe 
in his presence with the arming of the Choctaws, To- 
homcs, and Mobilians, as he had already armed the 


Natchez against them ; and also, instead of arresting, 
to excite the Illinois in their war against them. The 
Chickasaws far from proving obtuse to bribe, argument, 
and menace, were, on the contrary, most amenable. 
They promised all that was required against the Eng- 
lish, buried the hatchet with the Choctaws, and with the 
French formed all the alliance necessary to acquire 
the cement of so goodly an array of presents. 

Iberville, elated, computed that this treaty was good 
to the Crown of France for at least two thousand Chicka- 
saws, ot whom seven or eight hundred were armed, and 
for about four thousand Choctaws. He set himself at 
once to ratify his share of the articles of it. Five Cana- 
dians were sent, with the returning Choctaw chiefs, up 
the Mobile River to the spot where Iberville had prom- 
ised to locate a trading-station; and three Canadians 
were sent, with two of the Chickasaws, to the Illinois, to 
demand of them the return of their Chickasaw prisoners 
and to acquaint them that Iberville had buried the hat- 
chet which the governor of Canada had told them to 
raise against the Chaouanons, allies of the Chickasaws. 
Letters were also sent by these last messengers to the 
Vicar-general of Quebec, Bishop St. Vallier, then at the 
Tamaroas, praying that missionaries might be sent imme- 
diately among the Chickasaws and Choctaws, to assure 
and maintain, not their spiritual condition, but their 
good disposition to the French, 

There was but six months' supply of provisions on 
hand in the stores of the garrison. As there was little 
prospect of relief from France, and as the governor of 
Pensacola confessed there was none of his being able to 
return the French loans to him, Iberville gave Uicnville 


an order to send to St. Domingo for what was necessary. 
On the last day of March, 1702, he left the anchorage 
of Massacre Island and sailed to the harbour of Pensa- 
cola, where the " Renomm^e " lay waiting for him. His 
colony and his brother never saw him again. 



1 702-1 704. 

Fort St. Louis de la Mobile, the headquarters of 
Bienville, became the capital of the new French domin- 
ion, and the young man of twenty-two the chief execu- 
tive, virtually the first governor, of Louisiana, — • a name 
tliat then covered three States and a half. Even in the re- 
duced extent to which the royal names are now limited, 
the office of governor has never been eminently dis- 
tinguished for ease of administration or laurel-leaved 
emoluments. But while every holder of it since Bien- 
ville (with the usual necessary notable exceptions in the 
near past) has commended himself to the hearty sym- 
pathy, if not to the admiration, of the in\partial observer, 
not one of them is more deserving th" meed of compas- 
sion than this tyro official, wrestling with the English and 
Lidians, and cajoling the Spaniards, for the territory he 
occupied, figliting the suspicion, distrust, and calumny of 
those beneath him for the authority he exercised. Ward- 
ing off famine and disease with one hand, controlling and 
guiding his leash of turbulent Canadians with the other, 
dismissed twice from office, with, for thanks, the acquittal 
of a Scotch verdict, he nevertheless seems to have con- 
ducted his administration through the torpid encourage- 
ment of his superior, and active insults of his inferiors, with 
the same stolidity of determination with which he con- 


ducted his pioneers through the freezing swamps of the 
Red River country. And it may be added that he left so 
little mark upon the written history of the State he made, 
that suspicion points to some obliteration or destruction 
of record by those who, to secure tlie future working of 
their malevolence, usurped the natural privilege of time. 

According to the understanding of Iberville, based 
upon information obtained from the Indians themselves 
and from bands of reconnoitring Canadians, the loca- 
tion of the different tribes surrounding Mobile was 
roughly as follows : Nearest, on the Mobile River, as 
has been stated, the Tohomes and Mobilians, about 
three hundred and fifty families. To the northwest of 
these, between the Tombigbee and the Mississippi, lay 
the villages of the Choctaws, about four thousand fami- 
lies. North of the Choctaws were the Chickasaws, less 
powerful than the former in point of numbers, but fiercer, 
more unmanageable, and infinitely more to be dreaded, 
as they proved to the French. Northeast from Mobile, 
on the Alabama River, lived the Alabamas, four hundred 
families strong. On the Apalachicola River were the 
lands of the Couchaques, whom the Spaniards called 
Apalachicolas, — a tribe once subdued by them, but 
which, under the harassing depredations of P^nglish 
Indians, were being divided and scattered, some fami- 
lies seeking refuge with the French, others going over 
to their foes and establishing themselves in Carolina. 

Bienville immediately applied himself to manipulating 
these warring, discordant savage elements into some 
efficient organization for the French, directing presents 
and caresses, menaces and punishment, with his unfail- 
ing accuracy of judgment in Indian affairs. Patiently 



and deftly he worked ; but he had foes fully as deft, if 
less patient, than he, who could underwork ; and he never 
saw his Indian levee of protection nearing completion, 
but some crayfish-hole in an unexpected quarter would 
again let in the floods of war, and his edifice be threat- 
ened with demolition ; the English proving themselves 
not all Captain Barrs in I.,ouisiana affairs. 

Ravaging inroads were equipped from Carolina into 
the French and Spanish Indians' villages and cornfields, 
and harvest after harvest was destroyed with well-timed 
ruthlessness. The news of the War of the Spanish Suc- 
cession developed the secret into open machinations, 
and the Southern Colonial English received a contribu- 
tion from their Government of a fleet, which, hovering 
hke a threatening cloud over the sea-board of Florida 
and Louisiana, kept the Spanish and French stations in 
a tense state of apprehension. 

The Spaniards, as ill-provided with munitions of war 
as with food, knew no better defence than to shut them- 
selves in their strongholds and send out urgent appeals 
to Havana, Vera Cruz, Bienville, — the latter generally 
the transmitter of the appeals to the two places. Hardly 
a month passed that Fort St. Louis saw not some bark 
speeding through the waters of the river bearing some 
Spanish ofiicer, from St. Augustine, Apalachicola, or 
Pensacola, with his message of dire emergency ; and the 
young commander was forced to respond with men, 
provisions, arms, or boats, as the case was a tax for which 
his garrison and stores were poorly provided. Like Iber- 
ville, he wrote to the minister that, truthfully, had it not 
been for him, the Spaniards would have been more than 
once forced to abandon their possessions. 


And along the Mississippi, wherever an Enghsh trader 
could insinuate himself, tribes broke into revolt, and the 
torch of war, so carefully extinguished by the French, 
would be re-lighted, and bloody destruction spread from 
village to village ; the missionaries and their attendants 
furnishing always the first victims. And almost as of- 
ten as the Spanish barks, there would come, hurrying 
over the rough waters of the Gulf, long-pointed cypress 
pirogues from the river country, bearing appeals for 
food and protection, with news of terrifying fears or 
more terrifying realities from the roused savages, not 
infrequently fetching a load of wounded, discouraged 
pastors fleeing from missions where their sheep had 
turned into ravening wolves. So came Father Davion, 
fleeing from the Tunicas, bearing the story of the assas- 
sination of the aged priest Foucault and his attendants 
by their Coroas guides as they were peacefully descend- 
ing the river to visit Mobile. 

Bienville intrusted the punishment of the Coroas to 
the Arkansas, who gladly undertook it, while he pre- 
pared to inflict upon the Alabamas what they merited 
for an act of treachery which had incensed the whole 
colony. Notwithstanding the peace solemnly sworn and 
ratified between them, they were induced by the Eng- 
lish (so the French say) not only to raise the hatchet 
against the new colony, but to do so with a predeter- 
mined ruse. 

Some of their chiefs came to the fort with such plaus- 
ible stories of the plenteousncss of corn with them and 
their neighl^ours that Bienville, as anticipated in his con- 
stant scarcity of food, gladly accepted the opportunity 
of purchasing of them. When they returned, he sent 


five men, four Frenchmen and one Canadian, with them 
for this purpose. After a lapse of some weeks the Cana- 
dian alone came back to relate the success of the savage 
stratagem. The party, it seems, beguiling their journey 
with pleasant visits to near-lying Indian villages, had, in 
perfect cordiality and good-will, travelled to within two 
days of the Alabama village. Here the chiefs begged 
the white men to remain while they went in advance 
to notify their people, so that a suitable reception could 
be prepared. That night, while the white men slept, 
the Indians returned, and succeeded in tomahawking 
four of them. The Canadian escaped by leaping into 
the river and swimming for his life under a shower of 
bullets fired after him. A hatchet, sent with surer aim, 
inflicted an ugly wound on the arm ; this he dressed 
with pine gum gathered from the trees, chewed and 
applied as he fled through the forest. 

Bienville prepared for a brilliant and effective cam- 
paign ; as it was his first essay in arms against the savages, 
a success seemed imperative to insure the stability of 
his future relations with them. The result curiously re- 
sembles that of his last essay, thirty years afterwards. 

Raising a levy among his Indian allies, he mustered a 
force of nearly two hundred men, sixty of whom were 
Canadians. St. Denis and Tonty shared the command 
of the expedition. There was a grand camp-fire held 
in Mobile, the rallying-point, with great feasting and 
rejoicing everywhere, Bienville says that one would 
have thought all, Indians and French, of the same nation. 
After the feast, several days were given up to medicine, 
according to the Indian custom. Then liienville dis- 
tributed guns and sabres to the principal warriors, and 


the start was made in pirogues. The plan was to ascend 
the Mobile River to the Alabama, to land at some con- 
venient point, and marching rapidly across the country, 
fall, as a surprise, upon the foe. The apparent zeal and 
protestations of loyalty of the Mobilians, and their posi- 
tion of nearest neighbours, advanced them to the con- 
fidential post of counsellors and guides ; their young 
men also were to carry the baggage of the French. But 
under their affected bustle and hurry, it was soon per- 
ceived that the Mobilians were delaying affairs as much 
as possible, and they succeeded in retarding the baggage 
three days after the pirogues arrived at the landing-place. 
Immediately the ammunition was distributed, the sav- 
ages were warned not to approach too near the fire with 
the powder. Unfortunately two of them forgot, or were 
heedless : their powder exploded upon them, burning 
them so severely that they died two days afterwards in 
great agony. This was an omen whicn the savage mind 
could not but respect, particularly in a war conducted 
by strangers against their own race. A great many im- 
mediately turned back from the expedition. The march 
proceeded, and was conducted at the discretion of the 
Mobile guides, who, faithful to their policy, conducted 
the little army so cunningly that at the end of eighteen 
days it was spent with marching, and very little, if any, 
nearer the enemy than when it set out. They would 
not start until two hours after sunrise, forcing the French 
to march during the heat of the day. " But," as Bien- 
ville writes, " that would have been nothing if the Choc- 
taws and Mobilians had not deserted in a body, and if 
sickness had not broken out among the Frenchmen, 
unused to such exposure, heat, and exertion." The 


almoner, the surgeon, and twelve men succumbed. Then 
the chief of the Tohomes fell ill, and he and all his men 
turned back. The few Indians who remained did not 
conceal their intention of soon following so pleasing an 
example. In such a state of affairs the three com- 
manders decided that as they could not advance without 
their allies, there was no choice left them but to turn 
back also, particularly as their suspicions of the Mobil- 
ians led them to believe that they wc Id find the Ala- 
bamas on guard, or warned out of their village. They 
determined, however, that their vengeance, more than 
ever needed, should only be deferred, but that the next 
time it should not be at the mercy of any Indian allies. 
Marching in a straight line, they reached the fort in four 

After a few days* repose the new expedition, manned 
with Canadians and French, made a hopeful start. The 
Mobilians, who no doubt had warned the Alabamas of 
the previous advance, were counted upon to have also 
advised them of the ensuing retreat ; so the expectation 
of a surprise this time was a guarantee. Bienville, Tonty, 
and St. Denis again commanded. They were more 
successful in reaching the Indians, but hardly more so 
in executing ' vengeance upon them. They made the 
entire journey by water. As they neared the spot where 
their companions had been assassinated, they discovered 
nine pirogues, belonging to a party of Alabamas on a 
hunt. They were secured, carried down stream, and 
concealed. Scouts were sent to spy out the camp. It 
was found a short distance above, on a bluff" upon the 
bank of the river. Bienville was for attacking it at once ; 
but his companions prevailed in favour of a surprise at 


night. They waited in their hiding-places through the 
rest of the day until darkness fell and until, through the 
darkness, the camp-fires dimmed to a dull, smouldering 
glow, when the savages, as they judged, would be in the 
fastness of their heavy sleep. Then the command was 
given, and the stealthy advance began. There was the 
thick forest, a canebrake, and the bluff between them 
and the camp-fires. With all their precautions, a dry 
twig crackled under some foot. A wakeful Indian 
called out a challenge in his own language ; but in the 
dead silence that followed, he laid his head down again 
to sleep. The advance was resumed. Foot-falls now fell 
upon the half-sleeping ear ; the war-cry rose in the air ; 
a gun went off in the darkness, killing one of the French- 
men. The old men, women, and children broke from 
the camp and ran into the forest. The warriors retreated 
slowly after them, firing their guns at the invaders. All 
escaped, with the exception of four, — two killed, and two 
wounded. The French also had two men killed ; and 
for the rest of their vengeance were fain to content 
themselves with destroying the Alabamas' camp, break- 
ing up their pirogues, and throwing their hunting booty 
into the river. 

Bienville thought that the demonstration, such as it 
was, had a wholesome effect upon the savages both 
friendly and inimical. But he did not entirely trust to 
this effect, nor cease nis efforts here. On his return to 
Mobile he put the scalps of the Alabamas in the market, 
offering a gun and five pounds of powder and ball apiece 
for them, — a road to self-armament of which the Choc- 
taws and Chickasaws were not slow in availing them- 
selves. The war sputtered along like a slow fire for 


nine years. It was an easy channel for French and 
English animosities, and one kept open with only the 
small expense of guns and ammunition to both of them. 
The Mobilians were detached a few years afterwards 
from the Alabamas by Bienville's generosity in restoring 
to them some captive Alabama women and children, 
taken by De Boisbriant on one of the independent ex- 
peditions for which he was noted in the colony. The 
Mobilians claimed the captives as kinspeople, and their 
gratitude to Bienville for their restoration maintained 
them in unswerving loyalty to the French ever afterwards. 


1704, 1705. 

In the mean time the fort and its dependencies were 
completed. It is described by one of its builders, the 
literary ship-carpenter, Pennicaut, as being sixty fathoms 
square, with a battery of six guns at each corner. Inside 
were a chapel, the guard-house, and officers' lodgings ; in 
the centre, a square parade-ground. The barracks of 
the soldiers and Canadians were outside, some fifty paces 
to the left, on the bank of the river. Later, on an emi- 
nence also to the left of the fort, was erected the resi- 
dence for priests. 

In the month of August, 1703, the ship " La Loire " 
arrived from France with seventeen passengers, sixty thou- 
sand livres of money, and provisions and goods for the 
colonists, — a much-needed succour. Iberville, named 
commander-in-chief of the new French possession, was 
detained in Paris to accompany the next ship, " Le Peli- 
can," to sail for Louisiana, so it was promised, the follow- 
ing September. She did not arrive until midsummer of 
1704, and she came without the commander-in-chief, 
who was this time detained in France by ill health ; but 
the force of his influence at court was evidenced in the 
cargo. Everything that a Government paternally solici- 
tous could provide for an infant colony came on the 
" Pelican," — live-stock, food, mercLandise (this to be 


sold, however, for the profit of the king), a parish priest, a 
curate, four missionaries, a sick nurse, four families of 
artisans, seventy-five soldiers of the new Company being 
raised in France for Louisiana by Volezard and Cha- 
teaugud, and, most welcome of all, under charge of two 
Gray Sisters, twenty-three young girls *' reared in piety, 
and drawn from sources above suspicion, who knew how 
to work," for whose safe and honourable transport the 
minister warned the captain he would be held respon- 
sible. These were the wives with whom Iberville pro- 
posed to anchor the roving, lawless coureurs de bois to 
the colony, and domesticate them into respectable citi- 
zens. All well featured and pleasing, they were married, 
with one obstinate exception, within a month. The ar- 
tisans received their allotment of lands along the river 
front, the cattle were set at large, the goods and provi- 
sions stored in the magazines, and the sun of prosperity 
seemed about to rise over Fort St. Louis de la Mobile. 
But in reality the " Pelican " proved a poor mother-bird to 
her nestlings, her hold a Pandora's box to Bienville. In 
the first place, touching at Havana on her way, or return- 
ing to it, after the discharge of her cargo, for the beeves 
and oxen, the ship brought in the yellow fever. Under 
the circumstances it is not surprising that it raged ruth- 
lessly. In the month of September, — the month of pesti- 
lential climax in this climate, — Bienville wrote to the 
Minister of Marine that two thirds of the colonists lay ill 
or dead, and he, like his brother, invariably stated the 
best view of any subject. The " Pelican " lost half her 
crew, and to get back to France had to be re-equipped 
with twenty soldiers from the garrison. Thirty of the 
new Volezard Company died ; Dougt^, the Jesuit priest. 


Levasseur, and, most serious loss of all to Bienville and 
to the colony, the efficient, the loyal, the admirable 
Henri de Tonty died. The " Pelican " sailed away, carry- 
ing to the Minister of Marine Bienville's account of the 
scourge, his mortuary report, and his demand for more 
emigrants, live-stock, and particularly oxen for plough- 
ing. The captain despatched a brigantine to him from 
Havana with the warning that the English were arriv- 
ing at Carolina to drive him out of Mobile and the 
Mississippi. " If they come, they will not drive us away 
so easily," he wrote. His main reliance, like Iberville's, 
was upon the Canadians. Bands of wandering cou" 
reurs de bois made their way from time to time to the 
fort with their peltry to trade, or with nothing but their 
curiosity to gratify. These the young Canadian gover- 
nor generally succeeded in enrolling into his service 
either as soldiers or emissaries to the Indians. The 
sight of this growing force in Louisiana of their own out- 
laws did not act to allay the resentment of the Canadian 
Government against what it would persist in consider- 
ing a rival establishment. It cried out about the trade 
in peltry, and even thus timely was not reticent in its 
insinuations against the band of Canadian brothers and 
kinsmen who did or might make profit out of it. And 
in the barely crawling colony itself, a general, or, it may 
be, a particular, feeling began to evince itself among the 
Frenchmen against what De la Salle, the notary, at least 
considered a partisan organization for the furthering of 
the interests of the Canadians, — a feeling that De la 
Salle took it upon himself to express later. There were 
other feelings also to be voiced afterwards, — feelings 
which the " Journal historique " and Pennicaut and Bien- 


ville himself for some time discreetly make no allusion 
to. They give the pioneer and soldier history of the little 
place, narrating with pride every step forward in their pro- 
gress with the Indians, and of every successful trial of 
their wit against the wit of the English and Spaniards. 
These other feelings belonged to the historically cele- 
brated Curate de la Vente, and they bring us to the second 
category of the ill gifts of the " Pelican " to the colony. 
Perhaps they had better be classed in the first, for in the 
moral and financial damage done to the feeble establish- 
ment, the infliction of this contentious priest upon it 
was a sorer curse than the yellow fever, — there is no 
doubt whatever that the Canadians at least so considered 
it. During the ripening of the dissensions sowed by the 
clericals right and left, the chronicle of the fort proceeds 
with the account, which is the same in all new settle- 
ments in America, of the efforts to establish some stable 
political relations with such unstable qualities as Indian 

The I St of February, 1 705, tidings came to Mobile that 
the Chickasaws had seized and sold as slaves to the Eng- 
lish several Choctaw families who had come to visit them 
in good faith, and that the act of treachery had caused a 
rupture between the two nations. As there were in Fort 
St. Louis at the time more than seventy Chickasaws of 
both sexes, they were very much troubled about return- 
ing to their villages, which they could not do without 
passing through the territory of the irate Choctaws. At 
their solicitation, Bienville sent twenty-five Canadians 
under De Boisbriant to escort them. They arrived on 
their route at the Choctaw village about the end of the 
month. The Choctaw chief assured De Boisbriant that 


they would not oppose the return of the Chickasaws, 
but that it was only just to reproach them with their 
perfidy in the presence of the French. Therefore, the 
Chickasaws were invited to assemble in the open space 
in the centre of the village, and the Choctaw chief, with 
his calumet in his hand, began his penitentiary harangue 
to them. He reproached them with their injustices and 
want of good faith ; told them if the French took any 
interest in them, it was because of ignorance of their real 
character. The Chickasaws listened presumably with 
more uneasiness than contrition. Around, a circle of 
Choctaws had gradually closed them in. When the 
orator had logically reached his point that they ^vere too 
vile to live, and therefore it was proper they should die, 
reversing the plumed pipe in his hand, there was no ap- 
peal and no hope of escape from the sentence, which 
was executed at the instant. Only the women and 
children were spared. Several Choctaws were killed in 
the mel^e^ and De Boisbriant accidentally received a 
ball in trying to get out of the way. He was placed 
upon a litter and carried to the fort by a numerous 
escort of Choctaws. 

It was a blow which staggered the Chickasaws. They 
sent deputation after deputation to Bienville, praying 
his good offices in favour of peace. After a year's hos- 
tilities and losses had somewhat mitigated the resentment 
of the Choctaws, and chastened them, Bienville was able 
to bring them to terms and persuade them to smoke the 
pipe of peace with their adversaries. The reconcilia- 
tion proved a mere truce, however, and Bienville's hope 
of uniting the two powerful tribes for the French an illu- 
sion. A month later, the Choctaws were again at Fort 


St. Louis, smarting from another outrage of the Chicka- 
saws, who had again broken into one of their villages, 
and again carried off more of their people. They de- 
manded powder and ball of Bienville, which he granted, 
and another war was added to the list, and counted to 
the advantage of the English in Carolina. 

A year passed, and nothing was heard from France. 
Stores were eked out with purchases of corn from the 
Indians, and other necessities from Havana and Vera 
Cruz. Chateauguay was the sea-courier of the colony, 
and during the long interval between the last and the 
next vessels from France, he ran his two traversicrs 
with the regularity of a packet-line between Mobile, 
Pensacola, Havana, and Vera Cruz, doing the postal 
and carrying business, not for one, but for two colonies, 
— a business, however, which, as will be seen later, had 
another interpretation put upon it. His arrivals and 
departures are par excellence the important items in 
the details of the "Journal Historique," which gives 
us also an adventure of Chateauguay. 

Returning from Pensacola, whither he had been sum- 
moned by the vice-admiral of the Spanish " Armadillo," 
whose frigate of forty-six guns had been wrecked in port 
by a sudden squall, Chateauguay saw struggling off Mo- 
bile Point a brigantine, battered and broken and on the 
point of sinking. Answering the crew's cries and signals 
for help, he sailed to it. It proved to be a filibuster 
brigantine from Martinique, which had been caught in 
a storm while doubling Cape St. Anthony. Its mast was 
gone, its deck had been driven in, it had lost its fore- 
castle, and eight men had been swept overboard. Cha- 
teauguay lent the captain an anchor, landed his crew, — 


ninety Frenchmen and Spaniards, — and carried him 
and his treasure, — seventy-two thousand piastres, — 
to Fort St. Louis. The brigantine sank the next day 
at her anchors. How much of the saved treasure came 
to the rescuer is not stated, although Pennicaut de- 
scribes the filibuster captain's gratitude as boundless. 
Two years to a month after the departure of the 
" Pelican," Chateauguay arrived in the harbour of Mas- 
sacre Island from Havana, followed by the "Aigle," 
a frigate of thirty-six guns, under command of De 
Noyou, brother-in-law of Bienville, convoying a brigan- 
tine of supplies to the colony. 

The " Aigle " sailed away in August, carrying Bien- 
ville's long official report to his Government, contained 
in two letters, one written before the arrival of the fri- 
gate, and one during her stay in port. They furnish 
such a clear, succinct, and reasonable epitome of the his- 
tory of his establishment (the official documents of both 
Iberville and Bienville are always admirably clear) that 
it seems almost needless to attempt to add to them. 

After detailing the Chickasaw and Choctaw complica- 
tions, Bienville reports the destruction of Pensacola by 
fire, the loss of the vice-admiral's ship, and his assistance 
to the Spaniards in both emergencies, his being forced 
to borrow food from them on several occasions, and his 
discussions with them over the limits of their respective 
territories, the Spaniards claiming one bank of the Mo- 
bile, and Bienville maintaining Ins rights to both. Father 
Gravier had arrived, his arm pierced with five arrow- 
heads, shot by the Indians of his mission. Fifty Cana- 
dians also had arrived from the upper Mississippi, with the 
intention of settling. Among them were two men, who 


had travelled from village to village on the Missouri to 
very near the mines of the Spaniards. They assured 
Bienville it was the finest country in the world ; showing 
three specimens of minerals from there to support their 
asseverations, which they also backed by the assurance 
that the savages of the region were at war with the Span- 
iards. The Choctaws had made a fine stand with their 
new arms against the Indian allies of the English. He 
was constructing a mill, and forcing the colonists to 
sow small tracts of land ; but there was a good deal of 
general sickness among them. All the coureurs de bois 
except the married ones had returned to the woods, 
going in preference up among the Illinois, where there 
were Jesuit missionaries. There were not enough mis- 
sionaries in the country ; but only the strong and robust 
should be sent, the savages despising the pale and feeble- 
looking. Also, only grown men should be sent to colo- 
nize. He proposed sending some Indian chiefs to 
France, that they might see what the country was, they, 
so far, having but a poor opinion of the French. 

The colonists asked for negroes to cultivate their 
lands; they would pay cash for them. "There were 
some tribes who sold their prisoners for slaves ; but as 
they deserted too easily, the colonists did not want 
them, but asked permission to carry these slaves to the 
islands to exchange them for negroes. This is what the 
English did." ^ 

* The inaccuracy of the following is patent : — 

" Bienville proposed to send Indians to the islands, there to be ex- 
changed for negroes. If his plan had met with approval, perhaps he 
might have made the colony self-supporting, and thus have avoided, in 
1 710, the scandal of subsisting his men by scattering them among the very 


These were the important, but they appeared to be 
not the heaviest, cares of the callow governor; they 
were what he felt his ability could cope with. There is 
a tone of hopelessness and powerlessness in the follow- 
ing, which shows that there are limits to Canadian 
hardihood and endurance : " One of the girls sent out 
had refused to marry, although several good partis had 
been offereu to her. The men colonists were beginning 
to accustom themselves to eating corn ; but the women, 
many of whom were Parisians, eat it with difficulty," — 
which makes them rail against Monsieur the Bishop of 
Quebec, who had given them to understand that they 
were coming to the Promised Land. The priest De la 
Vente had refused to baptize a child of whom Bienville 
was god-father, on the pretext that he, Bienville, was 
talking to a woman ; ^ and the priest refused to make 
reparation afterwards. De la Vente would receive 
orders from no one but the Bishop of Quebec, who had 
appointed him. " One would expect," Bienville com- 
ments, " the disorders he causes, as he had to be recalled 
from the Indies, where he was stationed, the inhabitants 
refusing absolutely to have him." The priest crossed 
him in everything, demanded to have his church roofed, 
threatening to have it done at the expense of him to 

savages whom he wished to sell into slavery." — Justin Winsor: 
" Canada and Louisiana." Narrative and C itical History of 
America^ v. 27, 

As will be seen, the French scattered themselves among 
friendly Indians in 1710, and there was an idea (a most foolish 
one) of selling these into slavery. The above is 13ienville*s pro- 
position, verbatim, after Margry. 

^ For fear the copyist might have made a mistake in the word, 
the compiler, Margry, returned to his summary — it was, talking. 



whom he thought the work belonged (apparently Bien- 
ville), although he had several legacies in his hands for 
the purpose. Bienville had invited the priest to leave 
the chapel in the fort and take possession of his church 
outside ; and the latter had threatened him with excom- 
munication, and was even near doing so, Bienville wish- 
ing to attend the mass which his almoner, the Jesuit, 
celebrated in the fort. Despite the commands of the 
king to the contrary, the priest authorized marriages 
between Frenchmen and Indian women, which gave the 
former warrant to scatter themselves among the Indians 
and lead libertine lives in the woods, under the excuse 
that they were married there. The ill treatment which 
De la Vente had inflicted upon the Jesuit Gravier had 
forced Bienville to send him, Gravier, away (evidently 
by the " Aigle "). From Gravier could be learned 
what sort of man the priest De la Vente was. 

The commissary, De la Salle, sinned in the other ex- 
treme. " He has no servant. He waits upon himself, 
and works the ground with his own hands, — which does 
not comport with the dignity of his office." Bienville 
had spoken to him abou<- it, to which he had replied 
that his Majesty did not pay enough for him to have a 
valet. The writer did not fail, as no officer of the time 
ever failed to do at every opportunity, to remind the 
minister of his nine years' service in Louisiana, asking 
for an augmentation of salary, and complaining that his 
health was beginning to suffer. 


1706, 1707. 

Louisiana, with its elemental discords, was but a 
miniature reflection of the greater province of Canada ; 
in fact, the tropical ground was only sprouting seed of 
Canada's sowing. The governor, the priests, the royal 
commissary, and those active skirmishers in family 
quarrels, the women, were engaged in no new drama, 
they were simply re-enacting the well-known and well- 
worn roles which neither time, place, nor circumstance 
seems able to disassociate from sex, clerical and official 
position. With their plotting and counterplotting, crimi- 
nation and recrimination, Satan himself could not have 
worsened the moral atmosphere of the struggling com- 
munity, nor more surely have blighted its first promise. 

In Louisiana a slight change of the Canadian original 
is offered in the personality of the young, rude, unlettered 
Canadian, who from midshipman and lieutenant of ma- 
rines, had been pushed to the first place of a command, 
whose entire character and administration constituted 
one obstinate determination to maintain and increase 
the grasp of country left him by Iberville, l^ulwarking 
himself against the Spaniards in the east, spying out their 
land in the west, fending off the English at the north, keep- 
ing his channel of the Mississippi well open, scouring the 
Gulf with his Uttle vessels, arming the Indians against 


one another and against everybody but himself, buying, 
borrowing food, quartering his men in times of dearth 
upon the Indians, recalling them at every new invoice 
from France, Havana, or Vera Cruz, marrying the girls, 
breaking the Canadians into farmers, punishing savages, 
repressing his own bandits, building, sowing, carrying 
out with a handful of soldiers and a pittance of money 
the great Mississippi and Gulf policy of Iberville, — his 
activity and dexterity, it would seem, must have com- 
pelled acknowledgment from even his detractors. It 
must be confessed, however, that he was most lament- 
ably overmatched in his domestic adversaries, and com- 
bat them as violently as he could, and did unfortunately 
too often with their own weapons, De la Salle and De 
la Vente to this day tell their story against him, and to 
this day the biographer of Bienville must still be his 

De la Salle explains himself in his letters ; a word of 
preamble is necessary to explain De la Vente. 

The missionary zeal of the Roman Catholic priesthood 
in North America developed (if indeed it was not de- 
veloped by) a spirit of competition among the different 
orders engaged in proselyting the savages, which some- 
times savoured more of trade and politics than religion. 
Partisanship naturally ensued, which infected not only 
the civil and military authorities, but the ecclesiastical 
tribunals. The missionaries themselves were not only 
attacked in their name and reputation, but in the good 
work for which they were actually exposing themselves 

1 Margry confesses that the character of Bienville, all said, 
was not sympathetic to him (Introduction to vol. v.), and he 
makes no effort to render it sympathetic to others. 


to the most cruel of deaths, and their good work ravished 
of its moral effect by the overt and covert accusations of 
the friends and members of rival societies. The injury 
to the interests of France thereby was as irreparable as 
the injury to the interests of religion. 

The Jesuits, always in the van of missionary work, 
could with fair show of reason claim, through Marquette 
and Joliet, the spiritual territory of the Mississippi valley. 
Allouez, at Kaskaskia, had continued the mission among 
the Illinois dropped by the dying hand of Marquette. 
To Allouez had succeeded Gravier, appointed vicar- 
general by the Bishop of Quebec. In addition to other 
extensions of the work of his Order, Gravier planned and 
carried out a mission among the Tamaroas branch of the 
Illinois Indians. 

But the Re'collets also had a claim upon the Missis- 
sippi valley. I^ Salle's monomaniacal feelings against 
the Jesuits will be remembered. A Recollet therefore 
accompanied him upon his voyage down the Mississippi 
in 1 68 1, Zenobe Membr^ ; and he it was who had the 
honour of intoning the Vexilla Regis and Te Deum at 
La Salle's magnificent " prise de possession " of very 
little less than the whole of the South of the North 
American continent. 

The Bishop of Quebec, Saint-Vallier, by a prompt 
assertion of his rights, prevented the dismemberment 
of his diocese, which the Holy See attempted by the 
appointment of several Vicariates Apostolic in the Mis- 
sissippi valley. Saint-Vallier also claimed the Missis- 
sippi valley through Marquette and JoUet, — the one 
a priest of his diocese, the other a pupil of his Seminary. 
I'he revocation of the Vicariates Apostolic followed. 


The Seminary of Quebec, a foundling of the " Foreign 
Missions" of Paris, then obtained from Saint-Vallier, 
in 1698, official authorization to mission work in the 
fields of the West and along the Mississippi and its 
tributaries, projecting their first mission among the 
Tamaroas. The Jesuits protested that this tri^e was 
already their own. Nevertheless, the Seminary ;>'-!ests, 
Montigny, Davion, and Saint-Casme, arrived, and took 
up their stations respectively among the Natchez, Tunicas, 
and Tamaroas. 

Iberville, the son of a former employee of the Jesuits, 
was as frank in his sentiments for them as De la Salle 
had been against them. He established a Jesuit priest, 
Du Rhu, at the Fort of the Mississippi, and seldom 
lost an opportunity of exalting Jesuit intelligence to the 
detriment of that possessed by Recollets. 

Holding the mouth of the Mississippi and established 
at its head, the Jesuits solicited from Saint-Vallier the 
exclusive spiritual direction of Louisiana. The bishop 
refused to grant this to any one religious order, 
withdrawing from Gravier the power of vicar-general. 
An appeal from the Jesuits, complaining of the intru- 
sion into their territory, and a memoir from the bishop, 
were forwarded to the king. He referred the matter 
to an ecclesiastical commission, who decided in favour 
of the Seminary. In 1703, therefore, Saint-Vallier 
erected Mobile formally into a parish, annexing it to 
the Seminary of Foreign Missions at Paris and Quebec, 
which agreed to supply the clergy. Their first appoint- 
ment as priest to the new parish was the Rev. Henri 
Roulleaux de la Vente, of the diocese of Bayeux, who, 
according to Bienville, was not altogether ignorant of 


colonial experiences ; his curate was Alexandre Her\'e. 
The maintenance of the clergy was expected from the 
king, and it was fixed at one thousand livres a year 
for the priest, and six hundred for the curate ; but the 
Minister of Marine, instead of paying or even confirm- 
ing these terms, expressed astonishment that they should 
have been promised, *' the king," he said, " not having 
decided the matter yet." 

On his arrival in Mobile, De la Vente found the 
parish church in process of construction, and the 
parochial functions in the hands of Davion, who was 
most amicably in the same house with Doug^, the 
Jesuit, — a new house, still without doors and windows, 
for the completion of which the Jesuit had loaned the 
money. The epidemic, co-instant with the arrival of 
the ** Pelican," must have hela even ecclesiastical 
bickerings in abeyance. Doug^, as has been said, was 
one of the victims. It must have been during the 
first respite after the desperate struggle with the epi- 
demic that De la Vente was formally inducted into his 
parish and placed in corporal possession of his church, 
after the observance of the required ceremonial, — the 
entry into the church, the sprinkling of holy water, the 
kissing of the high altar, the touching of the missal, 
the visit to the blessed sacrament of the altar, and the 
ringing of bells, according to the careful enumeration of 
the entry signed by Jean Baptiste de Bienville, com- 
mander, Pierre du Guay (Dugue) de Boisbriant, and 
Nicolas de la Salle, scribe, acting Commissary of Ma- 
rine, contained in the old parochial registry of Mobile. 

Like Iberville. Bienville threw his affections to the 
side of his father's old patrons. When, two years after 


De la Vente's arrival, Gravier made his appearance at 
the fort, bearing in his body, not only the wounds, but 
in his arm an inextricable flint arrow-head, shot there 
months before by one of his relapsed flock (instigated 
by native priests, who also resented an intrusion into 
their territory), — the wise might well have had fore- 
boldings. The commander's warm reception and gra- 
cious treatment of the Jesuit could not fail to arouse 
(by that time it may only have needed quickening) the 
jealous violence of the parish priest. A year later it 
was in full blast, as Bienville's letter shows. Bienville 
accused the priest of inspiring Dc la Salle's attack against 
him. If this be true, De la Vente must have been grati- 
fied with himself as an inspiriting source ; for De la 
Salle's epistolary assaults, insinuations, and accusations 
are a credit to that species of literature by which scribes 
and commissaries in French colonial governments have 
ever undermined the reputation of their chiefs. 

In August, 1706, he expedited his first shaft in a let- 
ter to M. Begon, the intendant at Rochefort, "begging 
him to arrest on arrival a certain Lallemand, merchant 
and commissary of M. d' Iberville, who had embarked 
on the *Aigle' with more than fifteen thousand livres in 
l)iastres. He had also taken what he wished out of 
his Majesty's stores and powder magazine, without ren- 
dering an account to the commissary. He, De la Salle, 
had also heard that Bienville had sent a pirogue in pur- 
suit of the pirogue bearing De la Vente's letters to the 
*Aigle,' in order to withhold the said letters, and that 
the priest had otherwise cause to complain of Bienville's 
ill-treatment of him." A month later the commissary in- 
dited r thirty-page memoir, sent in duplicate, one copy 


by a Spanish vessel, for, he explains, Iberville and his 
brothers form a league down there, which governs every- 
thing, even liberty of access to the minister. The mails 
were so untrustworthy between Louisiana and France 
that he had been oI)liged to write several letters and 
confide them to different persons on the " Aigle," in 
order to inform the minister of the truth of affairs in 
the country ; not that it was possible, even then, to give 
the particulars, as M. d' Iberville had sure ways of being 
informed of all that M. de la Salle's conscience would 
oblige him to write to the minister, and he would com- 
municate, by way of Havana or Vera Cruz, with his 
league of brothers, upon whom his, De la Salle's, living 
depends, and they would proceed to inflict upon him all 
the suffering their revenue could suggest. 

The bane of the commissary's conscience, and in his 
opinion the bane of the colony, was Bienville, against 
whom his bill of indictment was loaded to the full. 
" Nothing was to be seen in Louisiana but poverty, 
dearth, dissipation, extravagance, dishonesty, and tyran- 
ny," all of which seems to have been furnished gratis by 
the commander. 

" The fort already rotting, the site of it the worst that 
could have been chosen ; it should be abandoned for Mas- 
sacre Island. The colonists on the bay had succeeded 
better in four months than those on the river in nine years. 
The scarcity of provisions was attributed to the bands of 
Canadians whom Bienville supported and retained, not- 
withstandincf the orders of the minister for their disband- 
mcnt. Bienville had brought back two prisoners from his 
Alabama effort, and had burned them to death before the 
gate of the fort. He had also ill-treated the wife of De 
la Salle while the latter was away in Pensacola, whither he 


had been sent by Bienville on business. Half of the goods 
and provisions were stolen in the transportation from Mas- 
sacre Island to the fort, do what the commissary could to 
prevent it, and work as he might from morning till night 
trying to regulate affairs as they were regulated in France. 
Bienville was tenacious only in contradicting the orders of 
the commissary. Bienville took all the game and other 
commodities brought by the Indians, for himself, although 
they were brought out of gratitude to the king. He sold 
a deer at eighty per cent profit. The traversiers had 
been engaged in carrying merchandise and peltry to 
Vera Cruz in the interests of Iberville and his brothers. 
Bienville himself had employed his Majesty's crews and 
vessels to send merchandise and brandy to Pensacola to 

" As soon as anything is needed for the service of the 
king, M. de Bienville knows immediately who can furnish 
it, and obliges him [the commissary] to buy it at a price 
of Bienville's fixing. ... M. de Chateauguay will not 
render an account of his purchases and disbursements for 
the colony, but he has great care to charge the expenses he 
has personally been put to, which are reimbursed imme- 
diately by M. de Bienville. . . . Bienville had opposed the 
reception of Hervd as almoner of the fort, and had given 
orders to De la Salle to pay a Jesuit in his place. Two 
thirds of the fiour sent by the Government was lacking on 
arrival of the vessels, which were loaded instead with mer- 
chandise for Bienville and his officers, who sold to the 
colonists, making enormous profits. Bienville also buys 
from the king at twenty-five per cent above cost, and sells 
to the colonists at four hundred. . . . Iberville had 
written a very menacing letter to him, complaining of his 
fidelity to the service of the king, and suggesting, among 
other things, that it would be easy for him to render false 
accounts and counterfeit the signature of the late commis- 
sary, the Sieur de Becancourt." 


M. d'Iberville had also retained the orders upon the 
Treasury for expenses in Louisiana, to cover advances 
which he pretended to have made. 

" I leave your Highness to judge of the character of the 
man, who passes in your mind for something quite differ- 
ent. I have in hand the proof of what I advance." 

Diverging from the interests of the colony a moment, 
the scribe speaks of his own affairs. He begs permis- 
sion to represent to the minister that he cannot live, 
with his family, on his moderate salary, in a country 
where everything is exorbitantly high, and he, the only 
officer who is perfectly obedient to the orders of the 
king, is not engaged in commerce. He hopes the min- 
ister will throw a favourable glance upon an unfortu- 
nate wretch who has sacrificed a great number of years 
without any advancement, others, on the contrary, reap- 
ing the harvest of his labours ; M. d'Iberville, besides, 
threatening • to put another in his place. He had 
married a girl of quality, recommended by Madame 
la Grande Duchesse (the "Journal Historique" avers 
that the second wife, like the first, was a hospital 
girl), and that his numerous family of children ren- 
dered the Government rations, suppressed by Iberville, 
a necessity, etc. 

Whether through indiscretion on the part of the writer, 
or, as he leads one to expect, from a violation of the 
mail, it is apparent that the spirit, if not the contents, 
of the letters became known to the persons most con- 
cerned; an effort on behalf of Bienville resulted. 

Father Gravier wrote a letter, — a studiously disinter- 
ested and politic one, — giving the news of the colony 


in a general, casual manner, which, however, pointedly 
answered De la Salle's important items : — 

"The fort and town could not have been better placed. 
Fruit and grain grew well on the soil, but the colonists 
needed negroes to clear the land. It had been proposed 
to remove the town to the mouth of the river, in order to 
be nearer Massacre Island, where the ships land; but the 
water was brackish there, and the establishment would be 
too far away from the Mobilians, Tohomes, and Apalaches, 
who had to be kept under hand. A fort was necessary at 
Massacre Island. The trade in peltry would be good if 
the French had an establishment among the Illinois and 
on the Ohio. . . . 

" M. de Bienville was very clever in managing the In- 
dians; he knew many of their languages. He had given 
four leagues of land along the Mobile to the Apalaches ; 
lie was often obliged to give presents to these savages and 
to those settled in the neighbourhood of the fort. He 
assists all the colonists who are in need, and shares with 
them what little provisions he can obtain, so that they 
are all very contented. 

" The garrison was very weak ; nothing could be done 
without the Canadians, who were very necessary for 
Indian expeditions." 

The letter of De Boisbriant went straight from his 
mind to his object : — 

" The curate, De la Vente, had declared himself openly 
against the Sieur de Bienville without cause. I would 
have let them settle their differences alone, if the service of 
his Majesty was not concerned. The Sicur de la Vente 
wished to persuade the colonists that the misery they were 
in for want of food came from the Sieur de Bienville's not 
informing his Majesty of the necessity of sending vessels 


oftener to Mobile ; but not being able to gain anything by 
this, because the Sieur de Bienville assists the colonists 
as much as he can, and at any rate they are contented, he 
turned to the soldiers, a great many of whom are sick, and 
under pretext of sympathy in their sufferings he had dis- 
tributed the money remitted to him, through La Salle, by 
order of Bienville, as a charity of his own ; giving them to 
understand that he continually represented their wretched- 
ness to Bienville, who paid no attention to it. 

" The curate boasted to every one that he would have the 
Sieur de Bienville recalled, and he had the temerity so to 
threaten him himself, with great bursts of temper, to which 
M. de Bienville had answered with a great deal of self- 
control. All of the ecclesiastics who are with M de la Vente 
suffer much from his ill-temper. A man with such a temper 
is not at all fit for the establishment of such a colony. All 
the inhabitants ask with fervour that he be recalled, and 
there are even many who would have quit here if they had 
had the means." 

Chateauguay, for his part, wrote asking permission to 
return to France, alleging the usual convenient excuse 
of ill herlth. 


1 706-1 7 10. 

Iberville died of the yellow fever at Havana on the 
9th of July, 1 706. Chatoauguay, returning from one of 
his trips to the island, brought the news to the colony 
the September following. 

The great Canadian's last expedition was another and 
a necessary step towards the realization of his policy of 
French domination of Southern North America, — a dom- 
ination which, with the Gulf States, as we call them, must 
include the Gulf itself. The English, with passive, if not 
active, co-operation, were to be driven out of the An- 
tilles by constant waylayings of their fleet, revolts incited 
among their negroes, and " filibustering " away of their 
islands. His past encounters with the English seemed 
to warrant, in his own mind, his self-confidence regard- 
ing future transactions with them. His proved intrepi- 
dity, coolness, emergency capabilities, and freedom from 
scrupulous restraints, united with his developing pohtical 
force and sagacity, would seem to warrant others in sur- 
mising, had he lived, not only great national changes in 
the Mexican waters, with his league of kinsmen and 
compatriots, but even the formation of a new indepen- 
dent power therein. 

Barely recovered from the illness which had hung upon 
him since his second visit to Louisiana, he left France with 


an armament, purposing to make a descent upon Barba- 
does and other English islands of the Antilles, and to in- 
tercept the English-American convoys. Landing at 
Martinique for a reinforcement of two thousand filibus- 
ters, he heard that the English, apprised of his coming, 
wp»-e already prepared for him, and had taken measures 
to prevent an uprising of the negroes. He threw him- 
self, therefore, upon the little islands of Nevis and 
St. Christopher, and captured them inside and out, 
their governors, inhabitants, negroes, vessels in port, 
armed and loaded merchantmen, and levied such a con- 
tribution upon them as inundated momentarily Marti- 
nique, his bank of deposit, with sudden wealth. After 
this exploit he made up his mind to attack the Carolina 
coast ; but stopping at Havana, where an epidemic was 
raging, to take on a thousand Spaniards, he lost eight 
hundred men, many officers, and his own life. His 
death was almost a vital blow to his foundling colony ; 
and Bienville, not long in finding out the weakening of 
his own position, unsupported by the influence of the 
feared Iberville, wrote during the next February to the 
minister, petitioning for leave of absence and reinstate- 
ment to his old position in the marine. 

" It would be very sad, my Lord," he says, " if for having 
remained here to establish this colony, I should be deprived 
of my promotion. I hope you will kindly consider my past 
services and those I am actually rendering. I have no re- 
ward to expect except from your Highness, of whom I ask 
a lieutenancy of vessel. The late M. d'Iberville, under 
whom I learned my profession, could have answered for 
my capacity, particularly in regard to the marine. You 
know, my Lord, that we have never had a patron with your 
Highness, and that it is you yourself who put a price upon 


our services. The king gives me twelve hundred livres a 
year, which would not suffice for three months, exposed 
as I am every day to the visits of the Spaniards, ever en- 
tailing new expenses upon me, in a place where everything 
is exorbitantly high." 

He again explains the condition and needs of the 
settlement. There was constant illness in the spring, 
when they should be sowing, among the unacclimated 
colonists. They could not, single-handed, cultivate 
enough land to render themselves entirely self-support- 
ing. It was the irregularity and delay in sending vessels 
from France that produced crises from lack of necessi- 
ties not produced in the country, which he had to buy at 
the king's expense. He had not been able to build the 
fort promised among the Chickasaws, for lack of men to 
garrison it, and merchandise to trade with the Indians. 
The lack of men had also forced him to abandon the 
fort c^n the Mississippi, and it was important to have a 
fort there to keep the Indians in check. Of the hun- 
dred men that should form the two royal companies, he 
counted but forty-five, of whose youth and physical inca- 
pability he complained, and of those the captains were 
missing, Chateauguay being always at sea, and Volezard 
not having yet arrived. He did not know what would 
have become of the colony if he had dismissed the 
Canadians, according to the orders of M. Begon. He 
reminded the minister again that Massacre Island 
should be fortified. 

The small bloody aff"airs of the Indians had taken an- 
other kaleidoscopic turn. Along the Mississippi there 
seemed to be a general relapse towards natural barbar- 
ities and forced migrations. The Cluetimachas about 


the same time declared war against their neighbours, 
the Touachas. These last, Bienville managed to recon- 
cile, however, before they came to blows. St. Denis 
was sent against the Clierthimachas, to punish them for 
the death of the missionary, and also to settle another 
outstanding account for some Frenchmen killed several 
years before. He returned with ten cabins of women 
and children, whom he had surprised and captured for 
slaves, and one warrior who had boasted of killing St. 
Casme, whom, after consultation, he says, with his offi- 
cers, Bienville had executed in the open square of the 
fort by a blow on the head. 

He himself led a hundred and twenty Canadians and 
Indians to the relief of Pensacola, again a prey to the 
fire and slaughter of the English Indians. When he ar- 
rived, however, the enemy had retired. The Spaniards, 
aware at last of the usefulness of Indian allies, begged 
Bienville to send back the Apalaches, Touachas, Pensa- 
colas, and Choctaws to their first allegiance to Spain ; 
asking him also to instruct them, the Spaniards, in the 
art of retaining it, — which was about the last kindness 
Bienville or his Government had any idea of rendering ; 
the ministerial letters according perfectly with Iberville's 
and Bienville's policy of doing all possible amicable in- 
jury to the Spanish tenure of the country. 

From Vera Cruz, by the same indefatigable mail-car- 
rier, came the news of De Noyou's death, — another 
weakening of the family league, and another loss to the 

One small vessel, loaded with brandy, salt, and to- 
bacco, sailed on a trading venture into the port of Mas- 
sacre Island during the winter of 1708, — a notable 



event. She disposed of all of her cargo easily, but un- 
fortunately furnished material for a future charge against 
Bienville, whom De la Salle accuses of selling appar- 
ently this same brandy to the colony of Pensacola. The 
commissary and the priest were still active in the fort, — 
almost as active as the Indian outside. 

Bienville wrote that the commissary refused to allow 
Chateauguay anything for one of his voyages to Havana, 
and had even had the temerity to tear up the order given 
by Bienville for it. He had likewise some time before 
refused to give an Indian chief the presents ordered by 
Bienville, tearing up that order also. The colonists were 
unable to obtain from him the money due them by the 
king, the commissary insisting he had no more money 
belonging to the king. Bienville and De Boisbriant had 
gone over his accounts and had found a credit to the 
king still of twenty-four hundred livres, and a balance 
from the two thousand piastres which Bienville had 
been forced to borrow from a merchant in Martinique 
to relieve the past p arcity. De la Salle claimed this 
as an equivalent of the lodgings and rations due him by 
the Government, and for payment for his trip to Pen- 
sacola. Bienville and De Boisbriant convinced him, 
however (so Bienville says), that his journey to Pen- 
sacola was for the service of the king and in the line 
of his duty, that there were spacious lodgings assigned 
to him in the fort, and that it was not the intention 
of the king that the commissary should draw rations. 
All the response that Bienville could obtain from the 
commissary was that Bienville was no longer in a po- 
sition to hurt him now that his protector and solici- 
tor at the side of the minister, Iberville, was dead. 


" I know," confesses Bienville, " that he has written to 
you that I have threatened to remove him from the con- 
trol of the magazine. It is true, in face of his insult, I 
did so threaten him, in the presence of my officers, who 
urged me to it; but as he has not rendered any ac- 
counts of his office for five years, I thought it better to 
stand him than to come to such an extremity. '' 

The commander then passes to the muscular adminis- 
tration of the spiritual adviser of the colony. De la 
Vente had laid the chapel of the fort under interdict, 
and had performed his ecclesiastical functions in his 
kitchen, situated at the other end of the town, refusing 
a house which the inhabitants had offered him. The 
parochial church which Bienville had begun to build for 
him, and of which he had taken such formal and cere- 
monious possession, he had refused to finish, pretending 
that it was too small for him. It had consequently re- 
mained open, exposed to wind and weather, and had 
recently been blown down in a gale. The grand vicar 
of the Bishop of Quebec, who had come to Mobile 
seeking assistance for his mission, had removed the in- 
terdict from the chapel and brought the priest to reason, 
obliging him to take the house offered. Many persons 
had given him, Bienville, certificates of the "ridiculous 
manners " of the priest, some of which he proceeds to 
describe : — 

" The priest was a violent, passionate, double-faced 
man, capable by his talk of leading the colonists to revolt 
if they did not have confidence in their commander. He 
brings divorce into households, publicly insults the women, 
baptizes the children all naked outside the church,— a cus- 
tom unknown in France, and which kills them here. There 


was not a man to be found who took more pleasure in 
trouble than he. He had written to Pensacola for flour, 
saying, wrongfully, as the Spaniards themselves acknowl- 
edged, that Bienville was starving them to death. A 
lamentable thing to show thus to strangers the dissensions 
existing in the colony ! Bienville could not relate all the 
hard things said of himself and his officers, which the 
priest had been forced to retract. He wrote voluminously 
to his superior, with whom he threatens them all; but he 
could only write falsehoods and calumnies, which he could 
not prove. Bienville relied upon the goodness of the min- 
ister to render justice to him, and to the colony that peace 
which the Jesuits maintained, but which this curate had 
entirely banished. ... In a country like this," he interjects 
with some pathos, " where not a single pleasure is known, 
one might at least hope for a suitable pastor." ^ 

One very small cartridge in the epistolary fusillade, 
perhaps an offset to Gravier's shot, appears in an unex- 
ploded state among the manuscript copies of all this 
correspondence. It is an undated, unaddressed mis- 
sive from the Superior of the Gray Sisters, who had been 
sent out with the marriageable girls ; and the charge she 
makes against the commander has the merit at least of a 
reasonable amount ol veracity and momentousness, even 
read as it is after a space of nearly two centuries. She 
describes herself as being subjected to the spiritual and 
manual training of the Indian girls in the colony, and 
states that the Sieur de Boisbriant had had the intention 
of marrying her, but that M. de Bienville and his brother 
had prevented him ; and that she was sure M. de Bien- 
ville had not the qualities needful for a governor of 

1 From Margry's transcription. 



It was nearly three years before the parent country 
again stretched out a hand towards the colony; and 
then it was not with a caressing palm, but with one 
nerved for chastisement : there might have been slow- 
ness in succouring, there was none in punishing. When 
Iberville's old ship, the " Renomm^e," sailed into the 
harbour of Massacre Island on the loth of February, 
the air must have become sulphurous ; for she was 
fraught with some of the thunder of Judgment Day, 
Every accusation that had gone out from Louisiana, 
returned from France with a warrant of condemnation ; 
and for four years the busy pens of priest, scribe, and 
governor had been inditing accusations with lavish 

In France, orders had been issued for the arrest of 
Lallemand, the supposed accomplice of Iberville, and an 
investigation instituted into the charges of peculation 
and appropriation of public funds brought against the 
dead commander, whose heirs were summoned to ren- 
der an account of his pretended claims against the 
Government.^ In order to remove, on this occasion 

* In " Histoire de Longueuil," lodoin and Vincent, it is stated 
that Iberville, as long as he lived, sustained the colony of Louis- 
iana with loans of large sums, without interest, the treasury not 


at least, any temptation to cupidity, the officers of the 
colony were allowed no freight whatever on the vessel, 
all the merchandise shipped being owned by the king, 
to be sold for his profit. As for the soldicij, the 
Minister of Marine had taken the precaution the year 
before to warn M. Begon that the low state of the 
Marine funds permitted the supplying only of the ab- 
solutely necessary ; . onsequently, no clothing could be 
sent them, as they were to be clothed in future every 
two years. (The soldiers had been already three years 
without clothing.) Of the amount of money necessary 
for expenses only one fourth was remitted. 

Here the stint seemed to end ; of supersedure, in- 
vestigation, advice, reproof, and directions, the supply 
was still undiminished in governmental centres. 

A new governor, M. de Muy, was appointed, and a 
new commissary, M. Diron d'Artaguette, who was sent 
by the minister particularly to repon upon the affairs of 
the colony and draw them if possible out of the hope- 
less condition into which they appeared to have 

M. de Muy, a Norman and an officer of merit, ac- 
cording to the recommendation of the time, who had 
worked his way upwards, grade by grade, from ensign 
to the governorship of Cayenne, whence he was recalled 
to assume that of Louisiana, had no opportunity of re- 
sponding to the minister's expectations of him. He 
died at Havana on his way out. 

Bienville received his dismissal in a letter from the min- 

being able to furnish tb^m. Fis advances for his last arma- 
ment greatly reduced the heritage of his widow and four minor 


ister, who, without circumlocution, informed him of all 
the charges against him made by La Salle and others, — 
malversation, peculation, illicit trade in skins, and sending 
a pirogue to intercept the curate's letter, which was not 
received in France. He was told frankly that he was to 
be called to account for it, and if found guilty, to be 
punished severely. Subjoined was an order for him to 
return to France on the " Renommee " as soon as he 
had given M. de Muy all the information needed for 
his government ; but he was not to leave without De 
Muy's permission. 

The governor presumptive carried a provisional order 
for his predecessor's arrest, and voluminous instructions 
for his guidance. The instructions hold a careful equi- 
librium between respect for Bienville's advice and ser- 
vices, and recognition of the suspicions aroused in the 
ministerial mind against him and the fear of losing for 
the Government any of the ueneHt of ttic former, and of 
not gaining profit by the latter. M. de Muy was to put 
himself in thorougli and available possession of all Bien- 
ville's knowledge relating to ihe country and his method 
of governing it, and to follow his poh'cy of dealing with 
the Indians and Spaniards. The proposition to ex- 
change Indian for African slaves from the islands, of 
which the king approved, was to be considered and 
adopted, if it were true, as Bienville wrote, that the 
English so exchanged their slaves captured from Indian 
allies of the French. The construction of a mill was 
also approved ; but the money advanced by the king 
was to be returned, with considerable profits of interest, 
to be acquired out of the grain ground ; and d propos 
of profits, as it were, the twenty- five per cent profit, 


at which Bienville sold the goods supplied by his 
Majesty, was not sufficient, considering the risk and cost 
of transportation. A special injunction was added 
against trading in skins : " his Majesty is resolved not to 
permit the entry into France of any skins that come by 
the way of Louisiana, in order to sustain the province of 
Canada, as he had promised to do when he engaged in 
the establishment of Louisiana. The king wished to be 
correctly informed concerning the exact utility the prov- 
ince would be to France commercially ; if it were to be 
disadvantageous to Prance, he would abandon it, with- 
out going on any further with the enterprise. As soon 
as possible, a detailed account of such commercial pros- 
pects was to be sent to the king, especially in regard to 
what commerce could be expected from the Spaniards, 
and what riches could be hoped for from that quarter," 
in case of a war. " And I wish," ends the minister, 
with a mind for small as well as large interests, " that 
you could give another name than Mobile to the place. 
Look for one that would suit, and let me know." 

The memoir then proceeds to deal with the issue that 
had brought about the change of administration, — quar- 
rels between the governor, the commissary, and the 
priest ; and strenuously with the charges of the two 
latter against the former, every one of which was care- 
fully enumerated. De Muy was to inform the minis- 
ter of all the facts, especially of the burning of the 
Alabamas and the cruel treatment of prisoners, and the 
ruinous prices (for his own profit) put upon his Majesty's 

Between \\ writing of this and the sailing of the 
" Renommee," additional letters from Dc la Salic 


arrived, and tlie certainty of Bienville's guilt became 
a foregone conclusion with Pontchartrain. He added 
a postscript to De Muy, enclosing extracts from De la 
Salle's last, with an order for Bienville's arrest and 
conveyance to France as a prisoner, expressing his 
opinion that if De la Salle's charges were true, Bienville 
merited the punishment of the guilty. De Muy and 
D'Artaguette were together to conduct an investigation 
of his conduct, and if in their opinion the facts and 
practices set forth were proved, he was to be arrested 
and sent prisoner to France. If their verdict were 
otherwise, the lettre de cachet was to be returned to 
the minister. 

A letter to D'Artaguette of the same date, and impor- 
tant, was tempered with a little vacillation in the foregone 
conclusion, or perhaps an afterthought of ministerial or 
manly equity in regard to the accused. " But I recom- 
mend not to adopt this course, unless it appears clear 
to you both that he merits the treatment, and not other- 
wise." The captain of the " Renomm^e " was informed 
of the charges against the accused, and given an order 
to receive him on the " Renomm^e," conduct him to 
France, and deliver him to the commandant of the 
first port in which he landed, to be detained, awaiting 
further orders from the king. 

Bienville at once, he says in his letter to the minister, 
February 2Sth, petitioned the captain of the "Renom- 
m^e " to put his second officer in command of the 
province, so that he might return to France ; but the 
captain had refused, for fear of the minister's displeasure, 
and so he had been forced to remain in command. He 
had not been able to learn from D'Artaguette the nature 


of the charges against him (evidently the official charges, 
for he had received them personally from the minister). 
D'Artaguette had told him that his orders were not to 
communicate them, and that consequently he, Bienvill ., 
was in the hard condition of not being able to justify 
himself. He then begged D'Artaguette to proceed 
alone with the investigation of the charges preferred 
against him, and to interrogate all the colonists, with the 
exception of three men, whom he specifies by name, 
giving his reasons. D'Artaguette could easily inform 
himself of the truth ; the testimony of the inhabitants 
would be his justification. As for sending a pirogue to 
capture the curate's letters, Bienville had proved, in the 
presence of D'Artaguette, that the letters in question had 
been given to an officer, the priest agreeing, saying that 
he was sorry he had written what he had, and no more 
attention should be paid to it. As for the execution of 
the Clierthimacha, his defence was the declaration that 
** the Indians always kill as many of their enemies as 
they have had killed by them, without which it is con- 
sidered disgraceful to speak of accommodation. To act 
otherwise would be to expose one's self to be thought 
of as a coward. In the beginning of the wars in Canada 
there was opposition to putting the Iroquois to death ; 
on the contrary, they were sent away with handsome 
presents, and it was seen that they mocked us, treating 
the French like women who did not dare kill them for 
fear of their revenge. Monsieur the Count of Frontenac 
finally took the stand of burning them, men, women, 
and children, cruelly, which had so good an effect that 
afterwards they did not dare come in war against us 
without fear." Nevertheless, he affirms that he had 


taken care not to kill a single woman, although the 
Indians kill women with men, to satisfy their revenge. 
He had always returned them to their villages, with the 
message that the French thought it beneath them to 
kill women. 

Breaking away from his personal affairs, he writes 
with indignation of the small i*ssistance sent after so 
patient an endurance. The colony was in consternation 
to find, on the arrival of the " Renomm^e," that no pro- 
vision had been made for the payment of the garrison, 
to whom two years' arrears were due. The magazine 
was bare of provisions, the men were naked, and they 
could procure nothing, as no one would give them 
credit on the bills of the treasury of the Marine. For six 
months they had subsisted on Indian corn. He excused 
the highness of prices with which the minister had re- 
proached him, by the difficulties of his position in a time 
of scarcity, and complained that De la Salle would not 
insert in his estimates his, Bienville's, statements of what 
was needed for the establishment. " It seems to me 
that he is more interested in the ruin than in the pro- 
gress of the colony." Although indispensable for expe- 
peditions against, and treaties with, the Indians, the 
Canadians had been discharged, as the minister com- 
manded. There was no longer any boat for sea service ; 
the brigantine had gone to the bottom, worm-eaten. 
It was impossible for a boat to last many years in these 
waters, without sheathing, on account of the worms. 
There was no longer any missionary on the Mississippi. 
The Jesuits had a fine mission on the Missouri, and 
there was among the Tamaroas a foreign missions priest 
who had merit and showed zeal ; but he knew neither 


how to make himself beloved nor how to instruct the 
savages. There was a foreign missions priest then in 
Mobile who would not go on a mission for fear of being 
killed by the Indians. *' I must confess to you, my 
Lord, that these gentlemen of the foreign missions, far 
from running to martyrdom, flee it, as one has just done 
here. Every day one sees Jesuits maltreated by the 
Indians without abandoning their missions ; on the con- 
trary, it seems to inspire them, and they never become 
discouraged." Proceeding with a stroke that demon- 
strates that the Indians were not the only foes with 
whom he practised retaliation, — 

"The Rev. Father Gravier has arrived here [he returned 
on the " Renomm<$e " ] with an order from your Highness 
for me to give him men to ascend to his mission ; but as 
the whole of my garrison and three fourths of the colonists 
did not perform their Easter duties last year on account of 
their want of confidence in the gentleman of the foreign 
missions, I invited him to remain here until Easter, so that 
the people of the colony can have liberty of conscience. 
This good father is known here and loved. I am sure that 
not one in the colony this year will miss the opportunity 
offered by the father for performing their Easter duties, no 
one failing in them as long as we had only Jesuits." 

Among other worries, the priest was causing great 
trouble to Frenchmen not living in families, who had 
women slaves to serve them. Until he hears from the 
minister on the subject, he obliges the masters to send 
their slaves to pass the night where there are French 
women. He again asks for leave of absence, and the 
payment of his maintenance by the Government, being 
already in debt over cloven thousand livrcs. 


In this letter Bienville advanced the idea, which ex- 
perience had ripened to conviction in his mind, and 
which, however obstinately he maintained it, met unfor- 
tunately with a more successfully obstinate opposition 
from higher authorities, that the true initiative of French 
prosperity in Louisiana lay not in the Gulf ports 
and in trade, but in agriculture and the colonization of 
the Mississippi River. It was a substitution of Iber- 
ville's grandiose scheme by a small practical policy of 
his own. He proposed to begin immediately, if the 
king would, once for all, assume the expense of sixty or 
eighty labouring emigrants with their families, — small 
families, as children are a charge at first. He would 
transport them through Lake Pontchartrain to the Mis- 
sissippi, and settle them about the Bayagoulas, where 
(and his judgment is good to-day), he says, are the 
finest lands in the country. 

D'Artaguette's reports were not only an acquittal, but 
a vindication of Bienville ; they read like the common- 
sense conclusions of a man of business, although he 
does not fail with an insinuating notification to the 
minister that the commissary was lodged with the 
brother of Bienville, and that all three ate together 
every day. 

After repeating the general items of Bienville's efforts 
among the Chickasaws and Choctaws, the machinations 
of the English, and the difficulties and hardships con- 
tended against in the past, he paints the particular 
condition of the colony, and gives a better idea than 
Bienville does of its wretchedness. The Canadians in 
service bad not been paid in two years, they owed 
money everywhere, and would return to their wood- 


ranging life unless girls were sent out for wives for them. 
More attention should be paid to the seed shipped ; a 
quarter of the last wheat arrived spoiled. Cows, mares, 
and stallions could easily be procured in Havana, and 
brought on the incoming ships. Sheep should be sent 
from France. There was no longer any boat in the 
colony, — a flat boat had been built to transport freight 
from Massacre Island to Mobile ; another would be 
built. The colonists needed the mill, and would pay 
the king for his advance in money to construct it. A 
fort was needed on Massacre Island ; the garrison, con- 
sisting of only ninety men, was kept in a miserable condi- 
tion physically, by the necessity of keeping up constant 
guard duty there. There were only eleven inhabitants 
in the whole establishment not in the pay of the king, 
and these would be a long time in making a maintenance 
out of their lands, unless they could exchange Indians for 
negro slaves, as the English did. If this expedient were 
not admissible, negroes should be sent them. Sooner 
or later, — he echoes Bienville, — the establishment 
would have to be transferred to the high banks of 
the Mississippi. The land on the Mobile overflowed. 
The ground lower down on the river was better than 
where the fort was situated, but it would ruin the 
few colonists to make a change now. In the short 
time he had been there, he had only heard who had 
appeared to him the least biassed in the affair of the 
quarrel between the commander and the commissary. 
They all declared themselves satisfied with Bienville 
and his conduct, and thought it would be desirable 
for him to retain the governorship. Only one of these 
witnesses had charged that the royal vessels had been 


sailed in the interests of Bienville and his brother, and 
that they kept a store, under the name of a relative, 
in which they sold merchandise and powder at ex- 
orbitant prices. He, D'Artaguette, had examined 
particularly the shop about which so much noise had 
been made. It was kept by a poor widow, burdened 
with four children, to whom, as to others, merchan- 
dise was given out of the royal stores, on payment 
of price. He had found in it only a few pairs of 
shoes and some pieces of old iron. It had not appeared 
to him that Bienville had usurped the functions of the 
commissary, and he was persuaded that the differences 
complained of by the latter were in the main of little 
consequence. In regard to the game and beef brought 
bv the Indians, all the inhabitants agreed that Bienville 
h. ^ made a distribution of it among them all, and had 
not sold any. And — a very apparent deduction, it 
would seem — it was not possible to carry on any trade 
at Mobile without ready money, and none was sent out. 
The whole garrison was very poor, as well as the colonists, 
and all were in need of everything. 

The curate was not the kind of Christian formed by 
the beatitudes. In a doughty letter to his superior he 
let fly a volley of blows about the head of his antagonist, 
maintaining everything, retracting nothing, giving quite 
a different reason for the performance of their Easter 
duties by the men, and still averring that he dare not 
write in his justification, for fear his letter would be 

De la Salle forwarded to the minister the original 
letter of Iberville to him, on which he had based his 
charges ; but its language was fo!,md too vague to sub- 


stantiate even a suspicion of dishonesty. D'Artaguette 
rendered to the minister the detailed account asked for. 
All things considered, it was more creditable to his 
Canadian subaltern than to himself. One hundred and 
twenty men constituted the entire force of the garrison, 
officers, soldiers, sailors, workmen, interpreters, priests, 
and boys. The colonists numbered in all one hundred 
and fifty-seven, — twenty-four men, twenty-eight women, 
twenty-five children, eighty Indian slaves, and sixty un- 
attached Canadians, who could be fixed in the settle- 
ment with wives. Despite the dearth of food and distress 
from sickness, the live-stock had been spared in a 
measure that proves better than any documents the 
patient thrift of the setders and the stability of their 
confidence in their venture. There were fifty milch 
cows, four bulls, forty calves, eight beeves, fourteen 
hundred hogs, and about two thousand chickens. 



PoNTCHARTRAiN appears to have experienced a 
quickening of conscience on the perusal of the state- 
ments he had called for from D'Artaguette ; and the 
affairs of the colony received that ministerial looking 
into which they so sadly needed. He found out that 
the worst was true. The troops had not been paid in 
two years. The money ordered to Louisiana had simply 
not been sent. " It is not surprising," he wrote to 
Begon, "that the colony suffers to the degree shown 
me, if the treasurer of the marine does not remit the 
funds ordered." The missing amounts were traced in 
a sharp correspondence, and fifteen thousand livres re- 
covered, which were ordered to be sent with the appro- 
priations for the current year ; but these appropriations 
themselves could not be paid in full, for the best of 

It was a time — the period immediately following the 
official venality of naval officers — when nothing was 
paid in the Marine ; consequently, when the royal navy 
of France began to sink to those depths of poverty and 
degradation, and her colonies to the suffering and ne- 
glect to which an extravagant government, overtaken 
by bankruptcy, abandoned them. 



Deprived of his efficient arm of supply and defence, 
Iberville, with his colonial project — one might call it 
speculation — ever calling for the margins which its natural 
development required, and which a depleted exchequer 
forbade, Pontchartrain saw no choice but abandonment, 
or transference of it to the shoulders of one of those 
convenient porters of heavy financial transactions, — a 
company. He began to look around for one upon 
which to shift his burden, giving directions, meanwhile, 
that the necessary supplies of food and clothing be sent 
by the first vessel. But even this first vessel, it was 
found, the Government could not afford to fit out. No 
company being forthcoming, private enterprise was so- 
licited ; and the usual eventualities attending individual 
efforts kept the matter in abeyance until two years and 
seven months had elapsed before the Sieur de Remon- 
ville could be found, terms arranged, and the " Renom- 
mde " loaded with the necessities for the waiting colony. 

In September, 1711, she sailed into the harbour of 
Massacre Island. 

If the colony was in poverty three years before, it 
should have been in destitution now, — and it was, for all 
that the Government had furnished ; but necessity had 
not failed in her teachings, and necessity had never a 
better coadjutor than Bienville. As a royal colony, the 
place had certainly been dispensed from existing, and the 
Sieur de Remonville, had he had an experienced e3'e in 
such matters, must have remarked that he had come to 
a very promising beginning of a filibuster settlement, — 
indeed, so promising was it that D'Artaguette seriously 
discussed the proposition made by a thousand free- 
booters from Carthagena to settle there. 


There was, in such a country, no starvation to fear. 
The salt-meat was exhausted ; but there was always, with 
the Indians to supply corn, an emergency provision of 
flour kept on hand. The most serious anticipatory ca- 
lamity was the threatened exhaustion of the supply of 
gunpowder ; but this was averted by a timely loan from 
St. Domingo. Two or three brigantines found their 
way from the islands across the Gulf to them : one, a 
slaver, to whom the colonists sold some of their Indians ; 
another, a trader, but the establishment was too poor to 
purchase the cargo. The captain put the vessel itself up 
at auction, and on the advice of D'Artaguette the 
officers bought it, in order to have some means of com- 
munication with the French and Spanish islands. 

During the summer months, in order to spare his 
stores of provisions, and, although he does not say so, 
to diminish the ravages of the periodical malady, which 
seems to have existed endemically, Bienville allowed his 
unmarried men to disperse themselves among the adja- 
cent Indian tribes.* It was a privilege of which the 
Frenchmen, all coureurs d'aventures, if not coureurs de 
bois, eagerly availed themselves, and one which must have 
furnished rare results of romantic frolic and pleasure, to 
judge by the written accounts of one of them, Penni- 
caut. The political results, the good-fellowship estab- 
lished between the white men and the Indians (there is 
no record of an abuse of their privilege by the white 
men), and the consequent ensuing sense of security and 
stability to the feeble colony, seem not to have been 
sufficiently estimated by the chroniclers of the time, al- 

* The quartering of his men upon them, with which some 
American historians reproach him. 


though these results must have formed the basis of Bien- 
ville's self-confidence in treating of Indian affairs. Not 
only personal, but hereditary experience proved the 
value of just such amicable commingling of the two 
races, when the civilized minority wished to gain the 
mastery over the barbarous majority. 

Pennicaut relates that, foreseeing a scarcity of pro- 
visions, three times he solicited the favour of summering 
with the Indians, and obtained it, thanks to the com- 
mander's knowledge of his good character and the good 
character of the men he was careful to select for the ex- 
cursion. His pen indeed dwells with such gusto on the 
description of this free forest life, and under the glow 
of reminiscence bursts into such an effusion of voluble 
confidences, that the historic loses itself in the fictional 
value of his journal. Among the Natchez, but more 
particularly among the Colopissas, on the border of Lake 
Pontchartrain, he lived what has become the staple of 
native American romance and poetry, — long boating 
expeditions, days of hunting, nights of dancing and 
frolicking with the young folks, around the camp fire, 
under the green leaves. A violinist was taken on one ex- 
cursion, and there was teaching of songs and the gavotte 
and cotillon to the pretty Indian girls, the sombre woods 
resounding with merriment, and learning from them all 
that merry-hearted, light-o'-love Frenchmen could amuse 
themselves by learning from pretty Indian girls ; and the 
always effusive adieux, tear-besprinkled by the young 
girls, when the summons came to return to the fort. If 
it was half as charmingly lived as it is charmingly told 
by the young carpenter, it must have been not with 
unmitigated sorrow that the unmarried portion of the 


garrison saw the river rise to a damaging height to the 
Indians' corn-crop. Bienville's influence witli the na- 
tives, his command of their dialects, his — according to 
their standard — fair and just treatment of them, never 
forgetting a promise, and never forgiving an injury, 
prevented the complete success of the English effort to 
include Mobile in the annual raids of their Indians upon 
the Spanish possessions. The Choctaw and Chickasaw 
chiefs, as vacillating in their enmities as in their friend- 
ships, were subsidized by continual presents into a state 
of at least ineffectual hesitation, and their coalition, 
which at any time could have swept the handful of 
Frenchmen out of existence, obstr.icted. 

There was an attack made on the villages of the Mo- 
bilians and Tohomes, but they defended themselves so 
bravely that by the time Bienville arrived with his re- 
inforcements, in answer to his allies' summons, they 
were glad to beat a retreat, leaving in the hands of the 
Mobilians and Tohomes five prisoners, who were burned 
next day. Sliortly afterwards, spies brought word of a 
tremendous armament among the English Indians, and 
of a projected attack on the French settlement by way 
of the river. The fear that this attack might be seconded 
by one from the sea, threw Bienville and the colony into 
a state of great uneasiness. 

What they dreaded, the Spaniards experienced. For 
two months Pensacola lay surrounded by hostile Indians, 
the garrison locked in the fort by the knowledge of cer- 
tain death sighting the first venturer outside. Their 
only food was barley-bread soaked in water. When 
that gave out, the governor wrote Bienville, they would 
be reduced to picking up shell- fish along the shore for 


food. He asked a loan from the French ; but there 
were only a few barrels of corn and flour to send him. 

Successive overflows continued to destroy successive 
corn-crops of the Indians, until there seemed no pros- 
pect for other nourishment than acorns. In 1711, Fort 
St. I^uis itself stood under water. In the extremity of 
lack of provisions, powder, and men, a council of officers 
was called, and it was decided to concentrate forces 
and means, and bring the two posts nearer together, 
by removing the fort colony nearer the island. The 
transfer was made immediately by the anxious colonists, 
willing at any sacrifice to secure a way of escape from 
inland attack, to Massacre Island, or along the coast 
to the friendly Spaniards, and also to be nearer the 
incoming vessels of provisions. 

Massacre Island throve and prospered amid all un- 
toward circumstances, with the sure persistency of a 
port town. Inhabitants drifted to it from the fort, from 
the country, dropped upon it from vessels, and hke all 
vagrant seed, they took root and flourished. Houses 
were built, stores set up, trees set out, and gardens 
planted, until, as Bienville said, it was a pleasure to see 
it. And the property accumulated was considered so 
valuable that the loss inflicted by an enterprising Eng- 
lish invader was estimated at fifty thousand pounds. 

All hope of the " Renommc^e " had been abandoned ; 
vessels were sent to Vera Cruz to buy food, if perad- 
venture the governor there would sell again on credit — 
which he had refused on the last application — when the 
belated vessel arrived. Altliough the relief she brought 
was mediocre, Bienville wrote to the minister, still it 
gave them courage to proceed, and freed them from the 


fear which was beginning to take shape, that they would 
be forced to abandon their estabhshment after such an 
expenditure of work and trouble. He put in a plea for 
the soldiers, who were so naked that they were objects 
of compassion. He had given them some deer-skins, 
out of which they had made coverings. And the colo- 
nists, he said, should be encouraged by the reimburse- 
ment of the advances they had made to the Government. 
D'Artaguette, preparing to return on the " Renom- 
mee," showed Bienville the hitherto concealed instruc- 
tions, written four years before to De Muy, concerning 
him. Bienville merely mentioned the fact to the min- 
ister, without again referring to the charges against him- 
self, or attempting any further defence ; but he ventures 
to add : " It is thirteen years that I have been here. I 
have passed my youth and used up my health here, and 
I certainly, my Lord, have not made any profit. Far 
from it, as I can prove to you, I have been obliged to 
contract debts to sustain the expenditures which I could 
not dispense with making, to retain the savages who 
come down upon me in numbers, to gain whom I am 
forced to pet them in a thousand ways that cost money, 
and the Spaniards, who make us frequent visits, and 
whom we cannot avoid receiving, for they sometimes 
assist us in our need." He asked for a concession of 
land, in extent from half a league below his present 
establishment to the Riviere aux Perles, to be erected 
into a fief, with permission to give it his name, and also 
prays for his promotion to the grade of lieutenant and 
for the cross of St. Louis. " After all my exposures and 
sufferings, and not having received a cent of my salary 
for seven years, I think I merit them." 


In obedience to the desire expressed by the minister 
so long since, in De Muy's instructions, the name of 
Mobile was changed into (to a surety a piece of D' Arta- 
guette's wit at the expense of the young Canadian and 
the minister) /wmobile, that of Massacre Island to 
Dauphin Island. 

Arrived in France, D'Artaguette wrote his report 
from Bayonne, — a characteristic document of blunt 
directness : — 

" The soldiers were deserting to the English of Carolina 
on account of their misery. They would desert to the 
savages if the latter had not received orders to arrest and 
fetch them back. Two equipments of clothing were due 
them. They were naked. For the most part of the time 
they lived on beaten corn boiled with meat. The coats and 
shirts brought out by the ' Renommde ' were spoiled. 
The number of colonists was too small for them to under- 
take any considerable work; they were moreover ruined by 
the extravagance of their wives [evidently the exported 
girls], who were naturally lazy, and had only come there 
for libertinage and idleness. However, a taste for trade 
with Spain was developing; but the English, by burning 
Massacre Island, had destroyed all the gains from it." 

He reiterates his opinion as to the importance and ad- 
vantage of Louisiana to the French ; speaks of the dis- 
satisfaction and jealousy of the Spaniards, " which can 
be laughed at ; the only people to fear are the English, 
and they can be kept oflf by the Indians, and particu- 
larly by an establishment on the Wabash [Ohio] ." 

During the winter of 1 709, D'Artaguette had accom- 
panied Bienville to the place on the Mississippi, between 
it and Lake Pontchartrain, where the latter wished to 
make his new settlement. A few colonists were already 


there, to whom Bienville had given tracts of land. They 
had planted corn, which he, D'Artaguette, saw, and 
which was very fine ; and he quoted their opinion that 
a hundred colonists could support themselves in the 
same locality. He concludes by saying that he had 
not seen the colour of his salary for five years. 

The " Renommtfe " departed, and the colony settled 
down to another period of governmental oblivion. But 
there were mitigations in their lot which made the 
future more hopeful than the past had ever been. 

In 1 710 l)e la Salle had died, and shortly afterwards 
De la Vente had taken his departure for France. Trao'e 
continued to sprout on Massacre, now Dauphin, Islano 
The peltry bought from Indians and coureurs de bois, 
which could not be exported to France, found ready 
sale in the Spanish possessions ; and garden vegetables 
and chickens brought in small supplies of cash from the 
ever-hungry garrison at Pensacola. The island itself had 
added a church to its attractions, — the gift of the Sieur 
de Remonville, pleased with the flourishing aspect of 
affairs there. The Apalaches, who had followed Bien- 
ville down the river, settled themselves on their assign- 
ment of land near the new fort. Here, under the 
spiritual charge of M. Herv^, they built themselves a 
church, and became so edifying a religious example, 
that the colonists used to jaunt out on Sundays and 
feast-days to see them perform their devotions and hear 
them sing the Latin hymns. 

Another member of the Le Moyne family had come 
out to the new colony, in whose fortunes they evidently 
had confidence, — De Sainte-Helene, a midshipman, 
son of Jacques Le Moyne de Sainte-H^l^ne, who had 


received his death -wound at the siege of Quebec, in 

The companionship of his nephew was not an un- 
alloyed pleasure to the uncle, as will be seen. The 
nephew's first exploit was allowing his vessel to sink to 
the bottom in the harbour of Vera Cruz, where Bienville 
had sent him for provisions. Fortunately the new vice- 
roy there, the Duke of Sinares, who had succeeded to 
the Duke of Albuquerque, was anxious to be on good 
terms with the French, and he replaced the lost boat 
with a brigantine, pretending that his delay in furnish- 
ing the provisions had been the cause of the accident. 
In the spring of 17 12, Bienville finally had the satis- 
faction, not only of bringing the Alabamas to terms, but 
also of including all his Indian allies in one general 


1712, 1713. 

The efforts of Pontchartrain which had procured the 
temporary relief of a Remonville were further successful. 
A rich merchant, the Sieur Antoine de Crozat, a capi- 
talist and moneyed favourite of the court, after a two- 
years' negotiation was induced to relieve his royal 
master of the burdensome colony for what profit he 
could draw out of it, for the space of fifteen successive 
) cars. The charter of the trading privilege as it was, 
bristled with provisions and stipulations of all kinds for 
all manner of mutual protection to the two contractants ; 
but to even a casual reader of Bienville's and D'Arta- 
guette's official reports, they read like a handsome 
ceremonial preceding the shearing of a lamb. D'Ar- 
taguette's last report was dated Paris, Sept. 8, 1712. 
In face of it, in despite of it, Crozat's charter was signed 
on September i4tli, but six days afterwards. Crozat, 
however, was not the only one to be pitied in this royal 
bargain. The king was to maintain the necessary mili- 
tary force in the country ; civil affairs were to be con- 
fided to a council, as in the islands of St. Domingo and 
Martinique. Crozat was to be represented by three 

Bienville, without reference to the accusations against 
him, his vindication, or his appeals for leave of absence, 


was unceremoniously assigned to what might be called 
the Indian department, — a position whose responsibili- 
ties were sharp enough to define themselves, but whose 
limitations were left to the uncertainties of future indi- 
vidual interpretation. Over all was to rule the new 
governor named to succeed M. de Muv, who Lad con- 
sumed the long interval since his appointment in en- 
deavouring to reach his distant command, — a failure by 
land, necessitating a journey to France, and sailing 
thence. To him Crozat promptly attached a lien in the 
shape of an interest in his trading privilege. 

In the policy to be carried out, the minister prescribed 
to his substitute an extract from Ibc^ville's and Bien- 
ville's neglected scheme. Five posts were designated 
to be established and maintained, — one at Dauphin 
Island, where the governor was to reside in future, one 
at Mobile, one at the head of Mobile River, one on the 
Ohio, and one at Natchez, to be called Rosalie (after 
the Countess of Pontchartrain), — which, with the Mis- 
sissippi and all its affluents and effluents, was to be 
under the command of Bienville, who was also to have 
the disposition of one half of the funds set aside for 
presents to the Indians. 

In June, 17 13, the "Baron de la Fasse," of forty 
guns, safely brought into harbour the new installation, 
personal, financial, and political. A more careful in 
stallation of personal, financial, and political disordci 
was never accomplished by even France in colonial 

The object of Crozat was trade, not with Louisiana, 
but with the Spanish possessions ; his methods were the 
selfish ones of the alien monopolist. His intention was 


to do for himself what Bienville and Iberville were try- 
ing to do in the interests of the colony. He pro- 
posed establishing a warehouse for his merchandise at 
Dauphin Island, and a line of trading brigantines to 
toucli at all the Spanish ports between Pensacola, Vera 
Cruz, and the Campeche coast. It was a project of 
which the approaching peace (treaty of Utrecht) seemed 
to make the success plausible. But the same peace, 
which guaranteed his ships, liberated also the merchant 
marine of Blngland. Not only this, the first trading 
nation, also the first treaty-making nation, of the world 
secured by this same peace, upon which Crozat rested 
his hopes, not only the closing of these same ports to 
French vessels, but the monopoly of the slave-trade. 
Crozat's charter, before he could put it into execution, 
was made, in fact, waste paper. His colony returned his 
indifference in kind, and frustrated as much as possible 
his extortionate attempts upon it by " filibustering " and 
smuggling. It was a losing fight, from the arrival of the 
" Baron de la Fasse," to principal and accessories. 

Gascon by birth and by qualities, one may say, Ca- 
dillac had been, if not one of the foremost, one of the 
prominent French pioneers in America for twenty years. 
Indefatigable, shrewd, clever, he had, according to con- 
temporary portraiture of him, not only ideas enough to 
equip himself with an Indian policy, a military policy, a 
regulation-of-royal-and-ecclesiastical-powers p)olicy, and 
a colonization policy, but he had also been gifted with 
abundant strength of body and mind, tongue and pen, to 
enforce the same. He was a prot^g^ of Frontenac, con- 
sequently an enemy of the Jesuits, against whom he 
would find a shot at any time in any of his policies. 


With Iberville, he held that the great rivers running north 
and south must be held to France, if France wished to 
hold her American possessions ; and that New Orleans, 
Quebec, and his city, Detroit, were to be her sheet- 
anchors in the continent. The activity and enthusiasm 
which Cadillac threw into his services, his experiences, 
his studies, his reflections, his whole self, had secured 
him rapid advancement and solid recognition. An able 
manager of Indian affairs, reputed to be one of the 
ablest ; a veteran, if ever there was one, in the interne- 
cine strife between Church and State ; a post-graduate 
in official complications, having had his own personal 
experiences of accusations, trials, condemnations, inves- 
tigations, and acquittals, — he had, in one word, the 
whole colonial question, general and particular, at his 
fingers' ends. His appointment, it would be supposed, 
would have been the ne plus ultra of administrative 
v/isdom. His failure, however, might have been read in 
his very recommendations. He had too many policies, 
too much experience ; he knew too much to learn more, 
and too little for a different sphere and different circum- 
stances. The result, as Louisiana experienced, was a 
middle-aged obstinacy which not only ignored other 
information, but utterly despised the possessors of it. 

Like an old practitioner he went to work at Bienville 
and his colony, shaking, twisting, turning them until 
what he was determined to find in them was demon- 
strated beyond peradventure or shadow of turning in his 
mind, and then he enunciated (letter to minister, 25, 26 
October, 17 13) his opinion, or rather his contempt, of 
the whole affair committed to his charge. His rough 
frankness has at least the merit of honesty, for personally 


his profit must have lain at least with a temporary pallia- 
tion of what he considered the truth. This is his version 
of Bienville's pretty establishment of Dauphin Island : 

•• He had counted upon it one dozen fig-trees, which were 
very handiiome ; three wild pear-trees and a little plum-tree 
about three feet high, which had seven poor plums upon it ; 
about thirty feet of vine, bearing in all nine bunches of 
grapes, some of them dried or rotting, the rest only a little 
ripe; and forty plants of French melons and pumpkins. 
That was the Paradise, the Pomona, the Fortunate Isles of 
the Relations ! Pure fables ! " 

With small regard for Crozat's peace of mind, he pro- 
ceeds, not only to damn any agricultural hopes from the 
soil, but the whole country itself, in totOy with the people 
it contained, — red, black, and white. But his descrip- 
tion belies his desire, or rather temper : — 

"I have already said that if the inhabitants have not 
cultivated tobacco and indigo, it is because they do not 
make anything by this culture. They have only been able 
to raise corn and vegetables. During the first years these 
harvests were abandoned. This permitted them to raise 
hogs and fov/ls, and to live passably. But during the last 
three years neither vegetables nor corn have come, either 
by excess of wet or drought, and the suffering has been 
very great. All the commerce, heretofore, has only con- 
sisted of timber, deer, bear, and wild-cat skins. The 
coureurs de bois get the skins and slaves from the Indians, 
and sell them to the colonists. The skins were resold to 
the Spaniards at Pensacola or to the vessels that came 
from the islands; the slaves were employed in sawing 
timber and clearing the land. The colonists carried to 


Pensacola, where there was no clearing, their vegetables 
and corn, and this trade threw a little money into the colony, 
and gave the colonists the means of buying from the 
islands. This is all, and the only commerce here ; and it 
has not enriched the colonists, for they are very poor, but 
it has enabled them to subsist. ... If there is anything to 
wonder at, it is that with so much poverty and so little com- 
merce the inhabitants should have consented to remain in 
the colony. But it is to be remembered that it is recog- 
nized that the land will produce indigo, silk, and tobacco, 
although the colonists have not cultivated them, out of 
ignorance of their culture, and fear that the colony would 
be abandoned. . . . They awaited peace with impatience, 
persuaded that when peace was made, vessels would come 
which would give a sustenance to commerce, and that by 
the way the garrison would then be treated, some conclu- 
sions might be reached as to the ulterior views of the Gov- 
ernment in regard to the establishment. . . . According to 
the proverb, * bad country, bad people,' one can say that 
there is a collection here formed from the dregs of Canada, 
gens de sac et de corde^ without respect for religion or for 
government, addicted to vice, and principally to Indian 
women, whom they prefer to French women. It is very 
difficult to remedy it, when his Majesty desires that they 
should be governed with mildness, and when he wishes a 
governor to comport himself so that the inhabitants shall 
make no complaint against him. On arriving, I found the 
whole garrison in the woods among the savages, who pro- 
vided for them with their guns, and thus for want, not only 
of bread, but of corn, the harvests having failed for two 
consecutive years ; and even if it had not failed, it is to be 
remembered that the harvest saves over here only from 
one year to the other, the vermin ruining it entirely. The 
lieutenants of the king, Bienville, came here at the age of 
eighteen, without having served either in France or Canada. 


His brother, Chateauguay, came here still younger, as well 
Major Boisbriant. There was no one here of the profession 
to train the soldiers, therefore they are badly disciplined. 
. . . The colony could not be poorer than it is at present. 
The Canadians who are here are returning to Canada, and 
nevertheless without them no enterprise is possible. Fifty 
of them should be maintained in the service of the king to 
make expeditions. If God gives me health, I shall try to 
elevate the colony, which is not worth a straw at present. 
But if it is to be preserved, at least one hundred new soldiers 
are needed, well equipped and provided with good bread 
and meat. We need Canadians and sailors ; and among 
the troupes there must be labourers, masons, stone*cutters, 
carpenters, millers. [He asked for a church.] I think 
the inhabitants would be delighted not to have one. Ac- 
cording to the priests and missionaries, the greater portion 
of them have not approached the sacraments for seven or 
eight years. The soldiers have not performed their Easter 
duties, following the example of Bienville, their command- 
ant, Boisbriant, their major, Chateauguay, captain, and 
S^rigny, a minor officer, — to all of whom I declared I 
would so inform your Majesty, which made them break out 
against me, with the help of the comraissary, Duclos." 

Cadillac assuming missionary duties after his expressed 
opinions of clerical interferences in the past, has a truly 
humorous touch ; but he was not one to be restrained 
by even humour in the exercise of his duties or pen. 
He charges point blank into the natural enemy of al! 
commandants, the commissary. Duclos and he agreed 
about no one thing in the colony : the fortifications, fur- 
loughs, presents to the Indians, all were in dispute be- 
tween them. It would be difficult, he predicted, for 
their union to subsist much longer. Duclos had refused 
to go over the accounts to examine the justice of the 



complaints against Bienville, and the truth about that 
officer was not obtainable. Not so Cadillac's theory 
about it : — 

" I have learned that De Muy, dying in Havana, M. Du- 
casse, who was there, took all the official papers relating to 
the government of Louisiana, and addressed them to M. de 
Bienville, who found out in the instructions the suit that 
was to b(! i'-.stigated against him. He profited by the 
knowledge, li!.e a clever man; scattering and sending out 
of his government all who would testify against him, either 
sailors or Canadians in the pay of the king, the rest [of his 
accusers] being dead. As it is an affair that has been 
going on for twelve years nearly, it is difficult to find living 
witnesses who can testify correctly, being, besides, con- 
vinced by the conduct of the Sieur d'Artaguette, who did 
nothing in the matter, and by that of Duclos, that the affair 
had been completely dropped. This cannot be doubted 
[the dropping of the investigation], in view of the intimacy 
existing between these two gentlemen [Bienville and 
Duclos]. In truth, one should be of very ill humour to 
ill treat so good a host, who leaves no stone unturned to 
make good cheer, not only for his guest, but for all who 
come to see his guest." 

And already Cadillac begins to suspect Duclos of 
being connected in trade with Bienville, although, ac- 
cording to his own showing, such a connection must 
have been most innocently unprofitable. 

Bienville he indorses, however, as skilful in managing 
the Indians, and he recommends that he be sent to his 
post, Natchez, at once. 

The report of Duclos to the minister, which antedated 
his principal's by a few days, was, as might be expected, 
a brief on the other side. He found, on arrival, not 


only the climate of Mobile delightful, but a mine of salt- 
petre within forty leagues of che fort. He also described 
the poverty of the colonists ; but gave as a reason their 
having to change their location so often. Divine service 
was held in a chamber of a house which the missionaries 
had purchased ; a church was being built, thanks to the 
generosity of the Sieur de Remonville. The missionaries 
at the fort were pious ; but it was a pity they did not 
learn the language of the Indians. The soldiers were 
persuaded that they had a right to their provisions and 
pay ; a great many of them demanding their discharge. 
The writer charged dissipation and extravagance against 
those who formerly had care of the magazines of mer- 
chandise and ammunition. Many of the receipts for 
provisions furnished had no shape, and the inhabitants 
did not know how to go about to get them paid. 

" The accounts found among the papers of M. de la 
Salle are in so little order that M. de Bienville, who, acting 
commissary, without knowing how, and who was not at all 
fitted for such business, did not know where to begin to 
make his accounts to the treasurer of the Marine for the 
expenditures since 1706." 

Speaking of the debts of Bienville and Chateauguay, 
he says that the poverty of both was so great " that they 
were obliged to take what they needed from the royal 
stores. As they did not carry on any trade, and were 
not paid their salaries, they had no other resource in 
order to live. What is very certain is, they are both very 

In addition to his report, Duclos wrote a lengthy me- 
morial, divided into chapters, which does suggest the 
intimate companionship complained of by Cadillac. No 


one so well as Bienville could have supplied him with 
the facts of the condition of the colony as set forth, 
with the arguments against the cession to Crozat, and 
with the proofs of its prejudice to the development of 
the place, and the eventual advantage to the king if 
Crozat could be brought to renounce his ciiarter. How 
much of Bienville's good cheer furnished inspiration for 
the following, Cadillac no doubt also could specify : 

" I cannot too highly praise the manner with which M. 
de Bienville has been able to gain the savages and domi- 
nate them. He has succeeded in this by his generosity, 
his loyalty, his scrupulous exactitude in keeping his word 
and every promise made, and by tlie firm and equitable 
manner with which he renders justice among the different 
Indian tribes. . . . He has particularly conciliated their 
esteem by punishing severely any thefts or depredations 
committed by the French, who are forced to make amends 
every time they commit an injury against an Indian." 

As for the presents to the savages, Duclos without 
reservation informs the minister that Cadillac turns 
them to his own profit, and he advises the minister to 
make the governor, in the distribution of presents, con- 
sult with Bienville, who " knows better than any one in 
the colony the strength of the Indian tribes, and conse- 
quently the amount and value of the presents necessary 
to make them." Recurring to the charges against 
Iberville and his brothers, Duclos affirms that the richest 
of all, not excepting one, could not realize a revenue of 
six hundred livres a year, after having sold all he pos- 
sessed and paid his debts. 

In conclusion, the young commissary, in a manner 
that refutes the later opinion of the minister concerning 


his capacity, pleads for libeny of commerce for the 
colony, and demonstrates that without it the Sieur de 
Crozat would gain nothing out of his charter. " As 
nothing flatters a man so much as liberty, and as they 
even prefer a liberty that is onerous, to restraints that are 
advantageous, the mere appearance of being able to 
trade freely would hold the colonists that are here, and 
attract others." 



In a private letter* to his brother, the Baron of Lon- 
gueuil, — the only private letter we have from him, — 
Bienville gives a view of the colony and of himself which 
makes one all the more dissatisfied with the conven- 
tional and uniform representations of both in the official 
documents : — 

Louisiana, 2 Oct., 17 13. 

You will no doubt have learned, sir and very dear 
brother, that since last year the king has given this country 
to a Company for fifteen years, and that Monsieur de la 
Motte Cadillac, governor of it, and interested in it [the 
company], had come here, with all his family, in a frigate of 
forty tons. They arrived the 5th of June last; and he has 
put such consternation in this country that, from the highest 
to the lowest, all are asking with insistence to go out of it. 
Several of the inhabitants have already gone to Vera Cruz 
and Havana ; each one is seeking some way of escape. It is 
indeed a sad thing, particularly for us officers and soldiers, 
to whom nothing came from France. My brother S^rigny 
was not able to ship even a small box by paying the freight. 
We ar(^ obliged to sell our slaves and small furniture, to 
make a little money to buy flour, shirts, and other cloth- 

1 Histoire de Longueuil, lodoin, and Vincent, p. 119. Letter 
published first in " Revue Canadienne," October, 1881, p. 596. 


\Ti% from the store of the Company. They do n^t wit.h 
to receive our salaries [certificates], at half or even two 
thirds discount; they wish only money, and this autumn 
we must clothe ourselves. ... A quarter of flour is sold 
to us at ninety livres, a hat forty livres, an ell of Rouen 
linen seven livres; and so on. When we try to say that 
that is too high, we are answered that they do not force us 
to buy, that that is the current price among the Spaniards, 
and that if we can do without, not to take it. But how 
get elsewhere? There is only this one store. There 
came also a commissaire ordonnateur^ with strict orders 
from the minister to make us pay for all the provisions 
and other goods we had been obliged to take from the 
king's store, when resources from France failed, at the 
highest prices such goods could ever have in this country, 
so that those of us who calculated that we only owed the 
king two or three thousand livres, we have to find from 
eight to ten thousand. It is forbidden also in the future 
to deliver anything to the officers from the royal stores, 
not even a pound of powder. In spite of ourselves, we must 
buy from the Company. Our soldiers are as poor as we ; 
they have not been paid in seven years, and by this vessel 
[the one that brought La Motte-Cadillac] there only came 
for them one coat and two shirts [apiece], no stockings, — 
nothing else. For all provisions, there is only given to 
them one pound of bad flour; no meat, no vegetables. 
They are crying, * Enough ! ' They often desert, and the 
prison is full of those who are caught. I will tell you 
nothing of M. de la Motte, except that we all find it very 
disagreeable to serve under him. He is completely dazzled 
at seeing himself the governor of the charming province of 
Louisiana. If he were not at the head of this Company, he 
would perhaps assist the officers a little. Upon his arrival, 
all the voya^eurs were here, with large supplies of peltry, 
which he obliged them to sell at vile prices ; selling them 


!n return merchandise exorbitantly high, so that they have 
all decamped to the Illinois, protesting that they will never 
again descend here, but in future go to Montreal. 

It is only five months since the arrival of the vessel that 
brought De la Motte, and already all the provisions are at 
an end. The king has only two barrels of flour left. M. 
de la Motte has given the soldiers leave to go and live 
wherever they please among the savages. There is no 
guard-mounting any longer. I will not expand further on 
the sad condition in which the colony is ; it has never been 
so miserable. There is a great deal due by the king for 
advances made by the inhabitants in times of past need, 
and nothing has been paid yet. M. de la Motte has a 
grown daughter who has a great deal of merit. I would 
think of asking her in marriage, if I had received your 
consent and that of my very dear sister, although I should 
have a great deal of trouble to make up my mind to become 
the son-in-law of M. de la Motte, on account of all the 
snarls I see him in with everybody. He is the most arti- 
ficial man in the world, who never says aught but the con- 
trary' of what he thinks. 

I gave myself already, a year ago, the pleasure of writ- 
ing to you on the subject of this future marriage, to know 
your thought. I had not at that time seen the young lady. 
I have not touched with her upon the subject of the mar- 
riage, and will not do so until I hear your will on the sub- 
ject. I have never had a father ; it is you who served me 
for one. I think that you will kindly continue your good 
offices to me in regard to the twelve thousand livres which 
you kindly withdrew from the sale of " Pres-de-ville " and 
the city house, and we beg you, Chateauguay and I, to 
have it held for us in France. Chateauguay informs you 
what he owes to Madame de Bethune (the widow of Iber- 
ville, remarried to the Comte de Bethune), and begs you to 
send it to her. As for me, I owe nothing to anybody. 


M. de S^rigny, who told you that I was in debt to him, 
is mistaken; he has never loaned me a sol since I can 
remember myself as reasonable : it is he who owes me a 
thousand pieces, which I sent him six years ago. On the 
seven thousand livres, or thereabouts, that you may have 
for me, I beg you to remit seven hundred livres in French 
money to the heirs of a certain Duchdry who died here five 
years ago ; his father was named Denis Darbois ; the bap- 
tismal name of this one also is Denis. I have here three 
money orders belonging to him: one for 360 livres, for his 
pay for one year; another for 180 livres, for clothes sold 
several Canadians in the service of the king, who could only 
pay in money orders ; and also another for 160 livres, for 
some other transactions which I assumed for this Duchdry. 
His father, I believe, belongs to "Cap Rouge," — three 
leagues from Quebec. I wrote to his parents, who have 
made no reply. It should be the same to them to receive 
from you cards [card-money], which is the money of Can- 
ada, as these money orders, which I do not think will be 
paid until the king pays his cards. . . . 

I have heard here casually (^en batons rompus) that the 
heirs of the late Chevalier de li^cancourt [one of the first 
commissaries in the colony] had not been paid by the late 
M. d'Iberville the eight hundred livres which the auction of 
his possessions amounted to, — which astonishes me, having 
written at the time to M. d'Iberville that I had received this 
sum of eight hundred livres and [for him] to give them to the 
heirs. I sent him the inventory which I had signed by the 
officers in duplicate. He acknowledged to me the reception 
of it, telling me that he had found at Paris the eldest of the 
Messieurs de Bdcancourt, to whom he had loaned money, 
more even than that sum covered. I cannot learn from the 
accounts Madame de Bethune sends me if she is carrying 
the eight hundred livres for me, as nothing is sent me in 
detail, only the totals. The clerks she has, not being the 


same as before, during the lifetime of her husband, I can- 
not exactly find out if I owe that amount. I have still the 
letter, in which my late brother informs me that he has ac- 
counts with the eldest of the Messieurs de B^cancourt, and 
that he is satisfied ; but in the uncertainty I think I should, 
in conscience, pray you to see these gentlemen, the heirs of 
the said Chevalier de Bdcancourt, and to pay them the sum 
of eight hundred livres, after taking their oath that they 
have never received the above amount, particularly the 
eldest of the family. If you have to pay this amount, there 
will not remain more than 4,500 of the 6,000 livres ; you 
will have them sent for me in France in the manner you 
think most proper, either in employing cards, peltry, or 
sending them in bills of exchange, the whole addressed to 
my brother De Sdrigny. You will know better than I the 
manner which will be most advantageous for me, on ac- 
count of the risks, which are at present small, having peace 
with England. I approve and will hold well done what- 
ever you do in the matter. 

While I am writing, Madame Le Sueur has come in; 
she assures me of having heard it said by one Babin, 
called Lasource, who came here by land five years ago, 
that the heirs of the Sieur de Bdcancourt had obliged him, 
Babin, who was in debt to the late M. d'Iberville, to pay 
them, — which debt he was condemned to pay, and did pay. 
As this Babin, or Lasource, is not here at present, — he lives 
ten leagues from here, — I cannot know exactly how much 
he paid on the account of M. d'Iberville. Madame Le 
Sueur says she thinks it was to Madame de Sourdis (De 
Villebon) that the said Lasource gave 400 to 700 livres. 
You will have the kindness to inform yourself about it, and 
to pay nothing until I have heard from this Babin that he 
has paid, on the account of M. d'Iberville, the amount of 
the B^cancourt heritage. As the rest of the voyagers who 
intend going into your part of the country leave shortly, I 


will enlighten you better about it. In regard to what you 
tell me, — Saint-Hdl^ne is to take on the twelve thousand 
livres, — I shall keep account; he owes me considerable. 
He has a very poor head, and spends a great deal : one can 
trust him with nothing, he dissipates a great deal. I have 
kept him here by me, and have given him the command of 
the little brigantines which the king keeps in the country; 
he has 600 livres a year and his valet. The commissary is 
one of my intimates; we live together. I got him to write 
to the minister very advantageously about Saint-H^lfene ; 
he continues the same pay that I had given him. The last 
voyage that I sent Saint-Hdldne on to Vera Cruz, he spent 
more than 5,000 livres in nine months' time. When I asked 
him to account for it, the only reason he could give me was 
that he had bought six very fine horses very dear, which 
had died, and the rest was not his fault ; that his pilot had 
solicited him to feact the other pilots and ship-captains in 
port; and, in short, several similar reasons. I confess to 
you, a veiy little more, and I would have sent him back to 
my brother S^rigny, who sent him to me. He will ruin 
me if he continues. He drinks and smokes a great deal ; 
he is assuredly the only one of the family who does so. 
He does not stick to anything ; he has just, however, prom- 
ised me that he will be more orderly in the future. He is 
leaving for Havana to get Indian corn for the garrison, 
which is reduced to running the woods for a living. 

I have strong expectations that this company will not 
be able to hold out in this country, and that it will abandon 
it, whatever good hopes M. de la Motte gives M. Crozat 
and Le Bar, who have an interest in it [the Company]. 
Their one object is to open a great commerce with Spain ; 
but they will certainly not accomplish anything. The 
Spaniards are warned, and they thrust their hands in every- 
where, searching eveki into the sheathing of the ships which 
go there for provisions. A vessel is just at this moment 


arriving from Vera Cruz, which they [the Company] sent 
under pretext of asking help. It was sent back, in sight of 
land, without a hearing. 

I am very sensible of the expressions of friendship that 
you give me in your letters, and also of [those of] my very 
dear sister, who had the goodness to think of me. I have 
received two of her letters, which gave me real pleasure. 
I pray her to continue to write to me, it is the only conso- 
lation I have in this country, to hear fiom you and her. I 
tremble every time I hear that there is some great sickness 
in Canada. As you are both beginning to enter into years, 
the risk is greater. 

You will kindly permit me to embrace here M. de Lon- 
gueuil [eldest son of the baron], who, I am assured, has 
returned to Canada a lieutenant ; you must be thinVing of 
soon making a captain of him. Suffer me to embrace here 
Madame de Varennes, my very dear niece; I am much 
pleased that you inform me she is happy with M. de Va- 
rennes : I had heard quite differently, which troubled me 
much. She is an amiable girl, with all the merit in the 
world, according t«> the portrait I have heard made of her. 
My dear cousin De Senneville, be sure to give him my 
compliments ; I despair of ever hearing from him, after 
having written to him (without an answer) as often as I did 
when I first came here. I know he is very negligent about 
writing, which takes from me all thought that he is acting 
from indifference. 

I am writing to M. de la Chassague, begging him to re- 
proach my sister with her neglect ; she has never yet written 
to me a single line in her life, — at which I am very much 
mortified, loving her as tenderly as I do, and I threaten her 
in the letter I am writing, to force her henceforth to write 
to me, by the importunities I threaten to write to her. 

Chateauguay is writing to you very lengthily. He will, 
no doubt, touch upon the worry M. de la Motte is causing 


him. He has taken possession of his house, despite him 
and whatever resistance he could make, as it was a large, 
new two-storied house, and good to lodge Jiis [Cadillac's] 
whole family, which is numerous. 

As I expect to go to France next year, I pray you, my 
very dear sister, to recommend to your patron to aid me in 
obtaining what I might find to suit me. It is a favour I 
ask of you, and also that of believing me, with much respect, 
sir and very dear brother. 

Your very humble and very obedient servant, 


I forgot to tell you that I think the minister completely 
recovered from his attitude against me. The curate-priest, 
Hiy enemy, has been recalled ; another has come in his 
place, who often eats of my soup. The minister gives me 
plenty of the holy water of the court. In the last letters 
he writes me promising that on the first opportunity I might 
be advanced. I almost flatter myself that if this company 
should fail, M. de la Motte might be recalled, and I remain 
again commandant. It is only in case that this should 
happen that I ask your consent to marry Mile, de la Motte ; 
for without that I do not see ahead how I could provide 
for a wife or provide for myself, for our governor is very 
stingy. He has not yet offered us a glass of water since 
the five months he has been here. The officers are always 
at my house. As heretofore, in regard to the money I had 
in my hands belonging to the heirs of Poitier, here inclosed, 
I have remitted it all into the hands of the Sieur Charly, upon 
the procuration of his father, De Poitier. I am very much 
mortified because M. Pacaud writes me that Poitier owes 
him ; but it was too late, it was already delivered. 

While Bienville was thus seemingly occupied renew- 
ing his family relations, arranging his financial affairs, in- 


dulging in matrimonial speculations, preparing either for 
retreat to France or replacement to his old command 
in case of Cadillac's happy failure, the latter was wrest- 
ling with the swarming difficulties of his government. 
As he truthfully said, a similar one existed nowheie in 
the world. His pen alone can do justice to it. In order 
to reap a new harvest of presents, feastings, and pacifica- 
tions out of the new administration, the natives were 
breaking out into complications in every quarter. No 
market could be found for Crozat's merchandise, either 
openly or surreptitiously, by land or by water, in any of 
the Spanish possessions. The king, as usual, defaulting 
from his share of the charter, was sending neither pay, 
clothes nor provisions for the soldiers, who were mu- 
tinous aid deserting. The girls sent out to marry were 
worthless characters. Even the Creator was particeps 
criminis in the disorder and distress, for having created 
such a country, the vilest of the vile for infertility, in- 
salubrity, and influences for general moral depravation. 
It was not worth wasting money on, and could be of 
no utility to France, except for commercial depredations 
upon the Spaniards in time of peace, and armed ones in 
time of war. But of all the difficulties of his position, 
Bienville and Duclos were the most exasperating, and, 
indeed, in the governor's point of view, most responsible 
for all the rest. They had formed a cabal among the 
officers, which, waxing in violence and impertinence, met 
in the house of the commissary for the purpose of drink- 
ing, debauchery, and formation of schemes against the 
governor. Without regard apparently for any prospects 
of tender family relations, he had had Bienville arrested 
for giving him the lie twice consecutively. He took the 


disciplining of the soldiers in hand himself, and put one 
in irons, — a mutineer who came to demand food from 
him. He particularly prided himself upon his treatment 
of the colonists, who had assembled themselves without 
his permission and drawn up a petition asking that M. 
Crozat would sell only by wholesale, and only at fifty per 
cent profit on the price in France. Cadillac says that the 
petition contained several other demands equally absurd, 
but that news of it coming to him, he proclaimed loudly 
that he would hang any bearer of it as the leader of 
rebellion ; and this threat coming to the ears of Bien- 
ville and Duclos, they suppressed it. 

Crozat came to the protection of his interest by rain- 
ing down upon the colony ordinances against trade in 
any shape or form, even to the small marketing pro- 
visionraent of Pensacola, under penalty of confiscation 
to the benefit of Crozat. It was also forbidden for any 
one in the colony to possess a vessel proper for sea 
travel, or for any one, not of the colony, to send any 
vessel into it for the purpose of trade. As much as pos- 
sible all expenses were paid in the merchandise which 
accumulated to rot in the warehouses, and prices were 
strained to cover, not only all legitimate profit, extor- 
tionate as it was, but also the loss from disappointment 
of the Spanish trade. 

Cadillac was not less ingenious in coming to the 
rescue of his authority, put in derision by the cabal of 
godless young officers. He emitted an ordinance which 
forbade the wearing of swords or other arms by any one 
not proving his title of nobility to the clerk of the coun- 
cil, under pain of three hundred livres fine and one 
month's imprisonment, with increased punishment in 


case of a repetition of the offence. And in every letter 
the minister was importuned to interfere, or to authorize 
the governor to proceed with such drastic remedies as 
his skill and experience suggested, not only in civil and 
military matters, but in ecclesiastical 



1715, 1716. 

The Indians soon recognized the grip of a familiar 
hand upon them, rousing them from their comfortable 
and profitable double-dealing. English traders had 
crept in among the Chickasaws, Choctaws, Yazous, and 
Natchez, and English emissaries were busy among the 
tribes still nearer the French. An English officer from 
Carolina, travelling in friendly security down the Mis- 
sissippi, was arrested at Manchac by a pirogue of Cana- 
dians sent for the purpose, and brought to Mobile. 
Although Bienville set him at liberty and passed him on 
to Pensacola, it is related, rather griml\ hat he was 
killed by a Tohomes Indian on his way back to Carolina. 
Already Indian chiefs were accepting English invi- 
tations to visit their settlement in Carolina. Bienville 
sent for the principal of the Choctaw chiefs, who only 
came, says the "Journal Historique," upon the assur- 
ance of Cadillac's absence. They were treated to such 
denunciations of their broken faith, such reproaches for 
their disloyalty, and of what they were to expect in the 
way of profit and friendship from the French, that they 
promised all that was required of them, and went away 
primed to acquit it. And in a short time they, in fact, 
returned with three English male prisoners, whom they 
had pillaged. Other tribes, envious of their booty or 


their loyalty, followed their example. In less than a 
month, a general pillaging of English merchandise had 
scattered the English traders. Tiiose who were brought 
prisoners to Mobile were sent on a voyage to Vera 
Cruz. De Sainte-Helene lost his not very valuable 
life in a Chickasaw village where a massacre of the 
traders preceded their pillaging. Following the advice 
of a chief to keep out of the way, he remained in his 
cabin ; but while he was bending over to get a light 
for his pipe, two young savages, mistaking him for an 
Englishman, slipped up behind him and killed him. 
Renewed alliances with the French naturally followed 
this outbreak against their rivals, — alliances which 
Bienville forced to include, not only intertribal peace, 
but punishment of the disloyal; the Choctaw chiefs 
pushing their regenerated allegiance so far as to bring 
to him, according to his demand, the heads of those 
of the tribe who had been led by partisanship of the 
English into visiting Carolina, who, Bienville con- 
vinced them, were the causes of all their delinquencies. 

In the month of October, Cadillac returned from the 
Illinois. His letters to the minister during his mining 
experiment keep up a brave show of hope and convic- 
tion ; but his voyage, as he had found out, was a wild- 
goose chase. The specimens of ore had not been 
found near Kaskaskia, but had been given to the 
Canadians there by some coureurs de bois^ who had 
obtained them from some Spaniards. The governor 
returned therefore to his capital more determined and 
better fitted than ever by temper to carry out his ideal 
of authority. The greatest obstacle to it in his opinion 
was shortly to be removed. 


Bienville received orders from France to proceed with 
a force of eighty men to his post at the Natchez, make 
an establishment, and take up his residence there. 
Pirogues were being constructed, and other preparations 
made for the expedition, when news was received in 
January, 1716, which changed the character of the en- 
terprise, and indeed, eventually, the character of the 
French occupation of the Mississippi. The Natchez 
were in war, they had pillaged Crozat's storehouse, 
killed all the commissioners they could find, and were 
putting to death all the Frenchmen caught travelling up 
and down the river. Nothing could be more disastrous 
to the colony ; there was no nation so important to the 
success of it as the Natchez, none whom it was so neces- 
sary to keep on good terms with, and none, now that 
they were in revolt, whom it was so vital to subjugate 
promptly and in an impressive and satisfactory manner. 
Bienville hastened his departure in every possible man- 
ner. Unfortunately there is no account from him of 
the first Natchez war, as it is called, nor from Cadil- 
lac. The Relations from the two participants in it, 
Richebourg and Pennicaut, leave nothing to be desired 
in detail and manner; but the former, as Cadillac's 
clique explain, belonged to Bienville's cabal, and the 
latter was ever his fervent admirer. Both substantially 
agree. But however related and by whom, the affair 
is interesting in the light it throws upon Bienville's 
character, upon the character of the Natchez, and the 
description of the unique duel which took place be- 
tween the representatives of a barbarized civilization 
and a civilized barbarity. 

Duclos, who forwards Richebourg's memoir to the 


minister, repeats the former's account of Cadillac's im- 
politic conduct in refusing or slighting the calumet of 
the Natchez both in going up the river to the Illinois, 
and returning. The Natchez, suspiciously concluding 
from this that some stroke was intended against them, 
simply took the initiative, as they imagined. Riche- 
bourg expressed this, in his opinion, as the cause of 
the war, frankly to Cadillac, who agreed, says Duclos, 
in its probable correctness. Cadillac's reasons to 
the minister for the war were quite otherwise. He 
wrote that after the accidental burning of the Natchez 
temple, by flames carried from the cabin of Crozat's 
agent, four Frenchmen travelling up to the Illinois were 
killed, according to Indian custom, which demands a 
human sacrifice for the burning of a temple, when the 
chief does not throw himself into the flames. Bienville's 
comment upon this is that the Frenchmen were killed 
four weeks after the extinction of the fire, and that dur- 
ing the burning of the temple there were Frenchmen 
among the Natchez to whom no harm was done. 
Richebourg writes that after the news arrived in Mo- 
bile, when Bienville was making all haste to depart, he 
solicited Cadillac to detail the force of eighty men, 
ordered by Pontchartrain. Cadillac refused to do 
more than give him the company of Richebourg, which 
consisted only of thirty-four men. Bienville then got 
Duclos and the agents of Crozat to join him in repre- 
senting to Cadillac the impossibility of constructing 
a fort and carrying on a war with the Natchez, who 
numbered at least eight hundred men, with a force of 
thirty-four. The result was an addition of fifteen 
sailors. With these he started, in eight pirogues. He 


arrived at the Tunicas, eighteen leagues below the 
Natchez, on the 23d of April. There he learned 
that the Natchez had assassinated another French- 
man coming down the river from the Illinois, and 
were lying in wait at the same place for fifteen more 
who were expected. Davion, the missionary at the 
Tunicas, advised Bienville of the fact that the Natchez 
were still ignorant that the French knew of their 
misdeeds, the assassinations being kept a profound 
secret among them. He warned him also against the 
Tunicas, who had received presents to kill him. Con- 
cealing his anxiety at this last information, and his 
knowledge of the state of affairs among the Natchez, 
Bienville assembled the Tunica warriors, and gave out 
to them that his mission was to make a small estal> 
lishment among the Natchez, where that nation and 
others could trade their peltry for merchandise; but as 
his men were very fatigued with the voyage, and there 
was some sickness among them, he was going to camp 
on an island a third of a league below their village, to 
rest for some time, and that they would do him a favour 
by sending some of their tribe to announce his arrival 
to the Natchez, which was done at once ; and Bienville, 
after smoking the calumet of the Tunicas, and making 
them smoke his, proceeded to the island, where he 
immediately went to work putting up a little intrench- 
ment of pieux and the necessary lodgments for his 
troops. On the 27 th, three Natchez arrived, sent by 
their chief to present the calumet to Bienville. He 
waved it aside, saying that they could get some of his 
soldiers to smoke it, but that for himself, being a great 
chief of the French, he would only smoke a calumet 


presented by a sun chief. This somewhat disconcerted 
the warriors. However, Bienville, having given them 
something to eat, affected great gayety with them, 
asked the news of their chiefs, expressed great desire 
to see them, and his astonishment that they had not 
already come to bring him refreshments, that appar- 
ently the Natchez did not care about the French mak- 
ing an establishment with them, and that if it was so, 
he would make it at the Tunicas. The warriors replied, 
with evident satisfaction, that their nation desired noth- 
ing better than to have an establishment of the French 
on their territory, and that they were convinced that in 
five or six days the < liiefs of the nation, without fail, 
would come themselves to express their joy at it. The 
next day the three warriors returned. Bienville sent 
with them a young Frenchman who spoke their lan- 
guage perfectly, to whom he had explained everything 
to say to the chiefs, and all the answers necessary to 
induce them to come to the island. The same day he 
sent one of his bravest and most adroit Canadians in a 
pirogue with an Illinois to slip by the Natchez during 
the night ana hasten up the river to warn the fifteen 
men coming down from the Illinois. He gave him 
also, to place in the different points of the river, a dozen 
large sheets of parchment, on which was written in 
large characters : " The Natchez have declared war 
against the French, and M. de Bienville is camped 
at the Tunicas." 

In about a week six Canadian trappers arrived at 
the island camp in three pirogues loaded with peltry, 
smoked beef, and bear's oil. They related that, un- 
aware of the hostilities of the Natchez, they had landed 


there ; but hardly had their feet touched land when 
some twenty men jumped upon them, disarmed them, 
and carried off everything they had in their pirogues. 
They were conducted to the village of the chief named 
The Bearded, — a great warrior. He asked them im- 
mediately how many more Frenchmen were coming 
down after them ; they answered, ingenuously, that they 
had left twelve more in six pirogues, who were still 
hunting, but who would not be long behind them. A 
short while afterwards, some of the great chiefs of the 
Natchez came in a great temper to take The Bearded 
to task for having pillaged and disarmed the Canadian?. 
Their arms were at once returned to them, and the re- 
storation of their property promised. They were given 
food, and shut up in a cabin to themselves, where they 
remained three days, during which the chiefs and war- 
riors deliberated night and day what they should do 
with them. The fourth day the chiefs came for them, 
and conducted them to their pirogues, in which they 
found almost everything that had been taken from them. 
There, the chiefs told them that Bienville was at the 
l^unicas, resting, that shortly he expected to come to 
the Natchez to make an establishment, and that they 
intended sending him provisions in a few days. 

On the 8th of May, at ten o'clock in the morning, 
there were seen approaching the island four pirogues, in 
each of which were four men erect, chanting the cal- 
umet, and three sitting under parasols, with twelve 
swimmers round about. It was the Natchez chiefs, com- 
ing to fall into the trap prepared for them. Bienville's 
interpreter accompanied them, and another Frenchman. 

Bienville, an adept in savage ceremonies and customs, 


ordered one half of his men not to show themselves, 
but to remain under arms, at hand in their barracks. 
The other half were to remain unarmed around his tent, 
and when the boats landed, were to take their arms, one 
by one, as the savages stejiped ashore ; and he charged 
them only to let the eight chiefs he named (knowing all 
the warriors by name) enter his tent ; the rest were to 
remain seated at the door, — all of which was executed, 
as he said. The eight chiefs entered singing, holding 
their calumet, which they passed several times over Bien- 
ville, from his head to his feet, in sign of union, pass- 
ing their hands over his stomach, then over theirs ; 
after which they presented him their calumet to smoke. 
He pushed the calumet aside with contempt, and said 
he wished to hear their speeches and know their 
thoughts before he smoked with them. This discon- 
certed the chiefs, who went out of the tent and pre- 
sented their calumets to the sun. One of them, the 
great priest of the temple, fixing his looks on the sun, 
raising his arms over his head, invoked it in prayer. 
Then they re-entered the tent, and again presented their 
calumets. Bienville, as if bored by their ceremonies, 
said to them that they had to tell him what satisfaction 
they were going to give him for the five Frenchmen 
whom they had assassinated. This stunned them ; they 
hung their heads without answering. At which Bien- 
ville made a sign to have them seized and conducted to 
the prison he had prepared for them. They were put 
in irons. In the evening, bread and meat were pre- 
sented to them. They refused to eat. All sang their 
death-song. At nightfall, Bienville had brought to his 
tent the great chief of the nation, called the Great 


Sun, his brother, Stung Serpent, and a second 
brother, surnamed the Little Sun. As they seemed half 
dead already, Bienville, to reassure them, commenced 
by promising them not to put them to death. He told 
them he knew it was not by their orders that the five 
Frenchmen had been assassinated ; that for his satisfac- 
tion, he wished not only the heads of the murderers 
brought to him, but the heads of the chiefs who had 
given the order ; that the scalps would not content him, 
that he wished their heads, so as to recognize them by 
their tattooed marks ; that he gave them that night to 
consult among themselves as to the measures they had 
to take to accord him a prompt satisfaction, otherwise 
he might take a stand bad for their nation. He added 
that they were not ignorant of the credit he had among 
all his savage allies ; that it would be easy to declare war 
against them and to destroy all their eight villages, w' h- 
out risking the life of a single Frenchman ; that they 
must remember that in 1704, when the Schioumachaqui 
(Clierthimachas) assassinated a missionary and three 
Frenchmen, upon their refusal to deliver up the mur- 
derers, all of his allied nations had been set upon them, 
so that from four hundred families they were reduced, in 
less than two years, to ninety. He then cited to them 
an example which he had made in 1707, when, as he 
reminded them, he had condemned a Frenchman to 
death for killing two Pascagoula Indians. In 1703, the 
Coiras chiefs had made no difficulty about putting to 
death five of their warriors who had killed a missionary 
and two other Frenchmen ; and that, in that same year, 
he had forced the chief of the Touachas to put to 
death two of their men who had assassinated a Chicka- 


saw; and in 1715, the Choctaws had furnished him the 
same satisfaction; the Mobilians, in 1707, had brought 
him the head of one of their tribe who had killed a Tou- 
acha, and that in 1 709 the Pascagoulas, having killed a 
Mobilian, he had forced them to render satisfaction to 
the injured parties. 

This ""^eech, the truth of which they could not con- 
test, ana which they do not seem to have doubted, 
made a great impression on the Natchez chiefs. They 
listened with great attention, and made no attempt to 
answer. Visibly, however, they seemed to suffer most 
acutely from the humiliation of being put in irons, like 
their vassals. 

The next morning, at daylight, the three brother 
chiefs asked to speak to Bienville. They were brought 
into his presence. They prayed his attention to the 
fact that there was no one in the village of sufficient 
authority to put the men, whose heads he demanded, to 
death ; that if he would permit it, the chief, the Ser- 
pent, as the head of the nation, would go and accom- 
plish the dangerous mission. This Bienville refused, 
putting in the place of the Serpent his younger brother, 
the Little Sun, whom he embarked immediately in a 
pirogue armed with twelve soldiers and an officer. He 
was landed two leagues below his village, whither he 
made his way by land. 

The next day two Canadians arrived from the upper 
river in safety, having seen and profited by the parch- 
ment advertisements ; and two days later, the Canadian 
and Iroquois returned from their mission with eleven 
Frenchmen whom they had met seven leagues above 
the Natchez, and saved from the ambush prepared for 


them. The reinforcement was all the more welcome, 
as it included seven pirogues loaded with meat and 
meal, which were beginning to run low on the river 
island. They reported that a pirogue, with one Cana- 
dian and two Illinois, who had separated from the party, 
had been taken by the Natchez. 

Five days after the Little Sun departed, he returned, 
fetching with him three heads, of which (with the aid 
of Pennicaut) only two were identified as belonging 
to the criminals concerned in the assassination. Bienville 
summoned the chiefs to his presence, and causing the 
rejected head to be thrown at their feet, remarked that 
in endeavouring to impose upon him they had sacri- 
ficed an innocent man. The chiefs confessed that the 
head was that of a warrior who had taken no part in 
the killing of the Frenchmen, but that being the brother 
of one of the murderers who had escaped, they had put 
him to death in his place. Bienville, showing his dis- 
pleasure at the incomplete punishment and insufficient 
number of heads, told them that they would have to 
send, on the morrow, another warrior, another chief, to 
their village, to obtain what he demanded. The Little 
Sun was put in irons and imprisoned like the others. 
He had brought with him, in a vain attempt at propitia- 
tion, the last prisoners of the Natchez, — the Canadian 
and two Illinois Indians whom he had delivered from 
the stake, where they were bound, to be burned. 

The next day, two warriors and the great priest of 
the temple were sent under a guard to the Natchez vil- 
lage. They were confident of fetching back the head 
of the chief White-Earth, the leader of the movement 
against the French. The same day Davion sent a 


warning to Bienville from the Tunicas that the Natchez 
were arming to rescue their chiefs or perish with them. 
The Tunicas offered forty of their bravest warriors for 
the emergency ; but Bienville, suspicious of all the natives, 
assured them that he was not at all afraid, but that they 
would do him a favour by continuing to send their spies 
among the Natchez, and keeping him informed of their 

The high water of the Mississippi began to encroach 
upon the island. It rose until even the highest part 
was overflowed a half foot deep. The weather was ex- 
cessively hot. Fevers broke out, and the men sufifered 
severely from colics and pains in their limbs from living 
constantly in the wet. Bienville had to abandon his 
tent and take to a scaffolding. An elevated powder 
magazine had also to be constructed. 

The chief, Serpent, caught the fever. Bienville 
had his irons removed, and permitted him and his 
brothers to pass the days with him in his lodgings. 
During their contracted companionship there v/as abun- 
dant time and opportunity for the Canadian to exercise 
to the utmost his inflexible influence over savage minds. 
His threats, reproaches, and exhortations drew tears 
and sighs from his unfortunate prisoners. They agreed 
as to the treason and culpability of their nation, per- 
sisting in their assurances, however, which they said the 
Frenchmen in Natchez could prove, that they per- 
sonally had never taken part in any of the councils held 
to invite the English to come there ; and as for the kill- 
ing of the Frenchmen, they had only heard of it eight 
days afterwards, and that they then regretted and wept 
over it, weeping as they spoke. Bienville pressing 


them to further confidence, they related everything as it 
had happened, confessing that the three warrior chiefs 
of Chestnut, White Earth, and Grigas villages were the 
causers of all the trouble, that it was they who had in- 
vited the English to their villages, and it was they who 
had ordered the massacre of the Frenchmen. Two of 
them were at that moment in the French prison, their 
foster-brother. The Bearded, and Alaho Plechia ; but the 
third. White Earth, had not come with them. They 
said that for a year these chiefs had acquired such 
power over the nation that they were more feared and 
obeyed than even they, the heads of the nation. The 
Serpent added that there were two other men in the 
prison who had taken part in the killing, and that he 
knew of none others besides. 

Bienville then, for his part, confessing that he had 
always had his doubts about their being involved in 
the affair, informed them that they should no longer 
be treated as prisoners. He had their beds made in 
his quarters, where they henceforth slept. 

On the 25th of May, ten days after their departure, 
the deputation sent for the head of White Earth re- 
turned without it. He, they said, had taken flight ; but 
they restored several of the slaves taken from the mas- 
sacred Frenchmen, and much of their property. 

The sickness that increased among his men daily, and 
no doubt the conviction that he had reached the limit 
of his power over the Natchez, forced Bienville to put 
an end to his war of negotiation. On the ist of June he 
ordered all the Natchez in the prison, vvliere they had 
been confined for a month, with the exception of the 
four certified criminals, to be brought before him ; and 


in the presence of .their three chiefs he declared his 
conditions of peace to them : that they should give 
their word to kill White Eorth so soon as they 
could catch up with him, and deliver his head to the 
French officer stationed at Natchez ; that they should 
consent, without delay, to the putting to death of the 
two chiefs and two warriors then in prison and in irons, 
as reparation for their killing the Frenchmen ; that they 
should restore all that they had stolen, and force their 
men to pay for the value of what had been lost, in skins 
and provisions; that they should pledge their nation 
to cut two thousand five hundred pieux, thirteen feet 
and ten inches long, of Acacia wood, and transport them 
to make a fort on the spot on the banks of the Mis- 
sissippi which would be designated to them ; and that 
besides, they should engage to furnish bark from three 
thousand cypress-trees to cover the buildings in the fort 
with, and that before the end of July. 

Whatever the conditions to the Indians, under the cir- 
cumstances, there was no alternative but to accept them. 
The chiefs did it with a grace that in days past would 
have been called royal. They thanked Licnville, each 
one making an harangue, in which they no doubt ex- 
pressed all the regret for the past, and some of the pro- 
testations for the future, with, perhaps, a modicum of 
the devotion to and admiration of the French attri- 
buted to them by Richebourg. They all repeated the 
articles and conditions of the proposed peace, binding 
themselves not only to execute them faithfully, but to 
perform even more than was required. 

After their speeches the chiefs asked Bienville if he 
would permit them again to offer their calumet. He 


replied that it was not yet time for that, they must first 
return to their villages, assemble their warriors, and ex- 
plain the conditions upon which he accorded peace to 
them, and that he would send an officer and two soldiers 
with them to see that they did it. 

The four guilty ones, in the prison, not doubting of 
the fate reserved for them, recommenced their death- 
chants. The Serpent, fearing the commotion in their 
villages when the returning Indians brought the news of 
the proposed execution of such famous warriors, prayed 
Bienville to give out that they were merely to be taken 
down to the colony, to the governor, who would decide 
upon them. He himself visited them in prison to tran- 
quillize them, assuring them that they were not to be 
put to death. 

Two days afterwards all the Natchez, with the excep- 
tion of the Serpent and the Little Sun, kept as hostages, 
were restored to their villages. The aide-major, Pail- 
loux, and two soldiers accompanied them, under instruc- 
tions from Bienville to remain with one soldier at the 
principal village in case the nation accepted the terms, 
sending one soldier and a chief to the island to render 
an account of it. He was also to search for the most 
suitable site near the river for a fort. 

On the 7th of June the pirogue bore back to the 
island nine old men of the Natchez and the soldier, 
bearing Pailloux* written account of what had taken 
place, the great joy of the natives at having their chiefs 
restored to them, and their disposition to do all that 
was demanded of them. Pailloux also had found a 
most advantageous position for a fort, near the river. 
The nine patriarchs presented their calumet, which Bien- 


ville accepted, and smoked with great ceremony. He 
then presented his, which was Hkewise accepted and 
smoked. The next day the old men returned. The 
Little Sun was allowed to go with them, but the Serpent 
was still retained as a hostage. A pirogue at the same 
time took to Pailloux the axes, spades, pickaxes, and 
other instruments necessary for building tlie fort. On the 
following day the two imprisoned braves had their 
heads broken by the soldiers. Dc Richebourg, one of 
the sufferers from illness, was permitted to return to 
Mobile. His report to the governor was anything but 
approved of. Cadillac pronounced Bienville's conduct 
as against the rights of humanity, and execrable. The 
force and influence of this judgment, however just, was 
nullified in the small community by a recent stroke of 
Cadillac's own against the Indians, of one of which he 
even boasted to Pontchartrain : having induced a Choc- 
taw chief to assassinate his brother, by promising him 
the murdered man's position. And as Duclos perti- 
nently remarked, in quoting the governor's dictum to 
the minister, Cadillac would have blamed Bienville, no 
matter what the latter had done. 

The day after De Richebourg left, Bienville delivered 
himself of his two remaining Natchez prisoners, by giv- 
ing them in charge to a party of Canadian traders, who 
were resuming their journey with their peltry to the 
mouth of the river. Their orders were to knock the 
chiefs on the head when they were about ten or twelve 
leagues from the island. As they were taking them to 
the boats to embark them, The Bearded interrupted his 
death-chant to sing his war-song. He related his won- 
derful deeds against different nations, and the number 


of scalps he had raised. He called out the five French- 
men whom he had had killed, and said he died with 
regret at not having killed more. The Serpent, who 
stood looking on and listening attentively, could not con- 
ceal his disgust at such, to him, unintelligent conduct ; 
turning to Bienville, he said, " He is my brother, but I 
do not regret him ; you are ridding us of a bad man." 

As the Mississippi did not fall, and the island still re- 
mained several inches under water, Bienville was forced 
to send his sick men and convalescents to the high lands 
of the Tunicas, where the Indians cared for them as- 
siduously, and kept them supplied with fresh beef and 

A party of Natchitoches arriving at the Tunicas with 
a pirogue-load of salt to sell, Bienville heard from them 
of the movement of a large party of Spaniards from 
Mexico towards Red River, with the purpose of mak- 
ing an establishment there. He hurried off immediately 
a sergeant with six soldiers to the head of Red River to 
forestall them by at least an official proprietorship. 

On the 2 2d of July, De Pailloux reported the fort 
in a tenable condition. Bienville, making a levy of 
thirty rowers upon the Tunicas, abandoned his amphi- 
bious quarters, and with what remained of his force, 
proceeded up the river. He had not ten well soldiers 
in his company. The Serpent, who was still with them, 
summoned to the landing-place a hundred and fifty of 
his men, who transferred the baggage from the boats to 
the fort on the same day that they arrived there. 

The Indians were jitill furnishing their contributions 
of timber and cypress-bark. In the course of the 
month the fortifications and buildings were completed, 


and the flag of France floated over a conquered country 
and a subdued nation. Like the Tunicas, the surround- 
ing tribes were quick to reaffirm themselves with the 
successful party, and claim alliance with such accom- 
plished foes. The Yazous and Ossagoulas came with 
their calumet to Bienville, who received them with his 
and their punctilious etiquette, and the same day the 
whole strength of the Natchez villages turned out to 
dance and sing, and rejoice before the rude but grim 
walls of that tyrant, military force, which they had raised 
against themselves. 

At the end of August such peace and tranquillity 
reigned over the so-recently convulsed community that 
Bienville felt justified in handing his command over to 
De Pailloux, while he went upon the not very pleasant 
mission of making to his superior officer the official re- 
port of the termination of his campaign, — perhaps of 
its justification ; for it is safe to presume that he had 
not been left in ignorance of Cadillac's opinion of it. 
His mind in going down the river must have been as 
busily occupied with plans for compassing the Gascon 
as it had been with schemes against the Natchez in going 
up. But in this event it was lost thought-work. 

When he reached Mobile on the 4th of October, a 
communication from the Minister of Marine was handed 
him. It contained an order for him to take command 
until the arrival of De I'^pinay, named to succeed M. 
de la Motte Cadillac. 

The Gascon had sinned against Talleyrand's dictum. 
In one of his letters to the Government, he says : " I 
think that so much care, so much trouble, should cer- 
tainly merit the words of the Scripture, * Well done, 


good and faithful servant/ etc. . . . but just the oppo- 
site comes to me ; the more I do, and the better I do it, 
the more I am ill-treated and scolded, — which discou- 
rages me completely. Sometimes the desire seizes me 
to do badly, according to the example of those around 
me, to see if I should not succeed better." No time was 
granted him to put the latter policy in practice ; and 
whatever his deserts or his idea of them, and his merit 
of the Scriptural encomium, he received from Crozat but 
the paltry recognition expressed in writing to the minis- 
ter, " I am of the opinion that all the disorders of which 
M. de la Motte complains come from the bad adminis- 
tration of M. de la Motte Cadillac himself." 

Pontchartrain's tribute was as follows : " Messieurs 
de la Motte Cadillac and Duclos, who have characters 
incompatible, without having the intelligence necessary 
for their functions, are hereby dismisr.ed and replaced." 


1717, 1718. 

Bienville's disappointment at not succeeding Ca- 
dillac was great. In the hearts of his companions, 
friends, followers, it became resentment, which did not 
bode well for the new administration. There was but a 
short time granted in which to enjoy their old independ- 
ence and authority ; they had hardly begun to exercise it 
before it terminated. In the beginning of March, 1717, 
two war- vessels escorted into the harbour "La Paix," 
which, with the new officials, fifty emigrants and three 
companies of infantry, brought the usual modicum of 
ministerial instructions and reprehensions, with one slight 
variation in the way of recognition. Bienville received 
the Cross of St. Lc.iis, and the concession of Horn 
Island, — in soccage, however, not in fief, as he had 

The ships were witnesses of the revolution in nature 
predicted as possible by Iberville twenty years before.^ 
A wind-storm, driving the sand up the channel, 
the bar which has since condemned it. The shi^ 
ing egress, where they had entered over.v^depth of 
twenty feet, met a closed passage before^^i^n completely 
blocked in. They had to be unjfifaded, and carried 
around through the channel ofl^^nd Gorier Island. 


De I'Epinay was an old lieutenant of marine who 
had seen considerable service in Canada. Crozat, with 
more confidence in his enterprise than in men, not only 
gave him, as he had done Cadillac, an interest in the pro- 
fits of the charter, but agreed to pay him two thousand 
livres a year if, in his position as governor, he would 
strictly and severely execute the royal ordinance pro- 
tecting the monopoly of trade. 

The minister, in a vain attempt to profit by expe- 
rience, condescends to be minutely particular in his 
careful limitations to the authority of governor and 
royal commissary, and to be minutely soHcitous in his 
efforts to predispose harmonious relations between them ; 
" his Majesty wishing, in case of any difficulty not fore- 
seen, that they should explain themselves one to another, 
in mildness and amity, and always with a view to their 
service and to the pnMic good." But the danger pro- 
vided for is neve; that which comes to pass. The in- 
structions^^v^ on what was done and finished were, 
as usu^pa^amentably deficient as a guide in the future. 

^I'Epinay and Hubert, his commissioner, either 
Trom natural temperament or the effect of administra- 
tive instructions, broke the precedent set by past gov- 
ernors and commissioners by fulfilling their official 
functions in harmony. The discord came from the band 
of men, the discoverers of the country, — its develop- 
ers, defenders, its holders for the past twenty years, who 
resented the ministerial belittling of them, the hamper- 
ing of their conduct, their subordination to non-com- 
petent aliens. The growing coterie of rival French 
officers excited their jealousy, their distrust ; and the 
Canadians resembled too nearly their savage friends to 


submit to what they could resist, and forgive where they 
could resent. 

The contest broke out sharply. The government was 
administered with all preciseness, owing perhaps to the 
very enmity which divided the officials into two cimps. 
BienviUe naturally found De TEpinay arbitrary and venal. 
As for his method of governing the Indians, he wrote 
to Hubert he could understand nothing about it. He 
wrote to the minister that De I'Epinay had seized all 
jurisdiction, civil and criminal, publishing ordinances of 
police, giving his orders to the treasurer, withholding 
for himself the presents intended by the Government 
for the Indians, carrying on trade for himself, but put- 
ting in irons any one who imitated his example, and — 
always a telling accusation to the court of Louis XIV. 
and the Regent — led a scandalous life. He had pro- 
mulgated an ordinance against the selling of brandy to 
the Indians, than which nothing could have made him 
more unpopular with his compatriots, as brandy was not 
only their most lucrative article of commerce, but their 
most effective means of assuring themselves of the affec- 
tions of the natives. 

Hubert, who was the active organ of the adminis- 
tration, couched his resentment in a broad, but safely 
damnatory statement, which could not be met with either 
proof or denial: he charged that Bienville was pen- 
sioned by the Spanish Government. It was an accusa- 
tion for which Bienville never forgave him, and which 
he never personally or officially omitted an opportunity 
to revenge. 

The administration, such as it was, was of short dura- 
tion. Crozat, suffering from the fulfilment of the pre- 


diction of the knowing ones at the beginning of his 
charter, terminated his experiment of instituting a vast 
lucrative commerce where there was possibility for only 
trade. His prayer to be relieved of his magnificent 
privilege and bad bargain was granted, and I^uisiana 
and the Mississippi, wholesale and retail, with the one 
spiritual exception of souls, which still were a monopoly 
of the Bishop of Quebec, was thrown into a parcel 
with the peltry trade of Canada (whose charter oppor- 
tunely expired at the time), and given over for twenty- 
five years to a Company called the Western. The king^ 
in virtue of his authority to name the directo.*^, gave the 
presidency of it to John Law. Among the directors was 
D'Artaguctte, now receiver-general of finances of Auch. 

The charter of the Western Company, like that of 
Crozat, was based not so much upon false hopes and 
statements as upon a false estimate of the time neces- 
sary to turn a colony into a good financial investment. 
The usual attempt to make it profitable before it was 
self-supporting was to be made, — an attempt which 
bade fair to press hard on the Company first, and the 
colonists afterwards. 

There was no time, with a future of but twenty-five 
years, to wait for natural growth and development. The 
seed which should have been fructifying for twenty years 
past was still to be sowed. But the Company of 1718, 
like any company or trust of to-day, proposed to incu- 
bate for nature, and the various artificial stimuli of 
lethargic prosperity were to be remorselessly applied to 
Louisiana. In other words, Louisiana was to be 
** boomed," and by the archetypal ** boomer " of finan- 
cial history, John Law. 


Agriculture, not mining, was the new countersign (al- 
ways following Iberville's and Bienville's policy). Large 
concessions of land were to be granted, on condition of 
settlement and cultivation ; plantations were to be laid 
off on the banks of the Mississippi ; tobacco, rice, silk, 
indigo, tar, and ship-timber were to be exported ; abun- 
dant imports of provisions and merchandise were to 
render unnecessary, and consequently mitigate, the sup- 
pression of the iUicit trade with Pensacola. 

There was obviously but one man in the colony capa- 
ble of handling it under the new, or, it might be said, 
any, conditions. De I'Epinay was summarily recalled, 
and he, Bienville, was made commandant-general, or gov- 
ernor, with a salary of six thousand livres a year. Hubert 
was retained, and named commissioner-general, with a 
salary of five thousand livres a year. 

These appointments and the backing up of them by 
three ships with provisions, merchandise, and emigrants, 
threw the colonists into, for them, the novel excitement 
and exhilaration of hope and enterprise. 

Bienville, without further delay, executed the oft-re- 
peated orders to take possession of St. Joseph's Bay, — 
the unfortunate site of the apotheosis of La Salle's 
Mississippi attempt. Chateauguay was sent there with a 
detachment of fifty soldiers. He built a fort upon the 
ill-fated spot ; but French possession of it was no better 
assured thereby than in the first instance. In a short 
while the Spaniards persuaded the greater part of the 
garr'son to desert, and the difficulties of sustaining the 
iemaindcr, not in allegiance, but in life, caused their 
withdrawal during the course of the year. 

An engineer was sent to sound the bar of the river. 


Bienville and Chateauguay were also instructed to make 
soundings. Drags and grapnels were sent, to be tried, 
for the Mississippi scheme demanded at least a passage 
into the Mississippi. 

Bienville's repeated demands for an establishment 
upon the Mississippi finally found a hearing ; but he was 
advised that the location was still to be considered. He 
was asked whether Manchac would not be better, on 
account of its double communication with Mobile by 
lake and river, and its command of Red River. Waiving 
such distant advice and judgment, and seizing the gol- 
den opportunity of means and authority once more in 
his hand, Bienville took fifty men himself and put them 
at once to clearing the land and building lodgings on 
the ground selected by himself years before, and to be 
abandoned for no Manchac ; the spot, a ridge of high 
land about thirty leagues from the mouth of the Mis- 
sissippi, lying between the river and Lake Pontchar- 
train, with easy portage and bayou communication be- 
tween the two, — the one site in his judgment for the 
city destined, as he was assured, to become the capital 
of the Mississippi valley. The map of the valley it- 
self was divided out over in France by the Company, 
with the showy policy of such landed enterprises. 
To Law was conceded four square leagues upon the 
Arkansas. A company, headed by Leblanc, Secretary 
of State, the Comte de Belleville, and the Marquis 
d'Assleck, took possession of the Yazous. Concessions 
at Natchez were made to the commissioner, Hubert, 
and to a company of St. Malo merchants. Natchito- 
ches was conceded to Bernard de la Harpe, the com- 
piler of the " Journal Historique ; " Tunicas to St. 


Reine ; Pointe Couple to De Meuse ; the present site 
of Baton Rouge to Diron d'Artaguette ; the bank of the 
Mississippi opposite Manchac to Paris Duvernay ; the 
Tchoupitoulas lands to De Muys ; that of the Oumas to 
the Marquis d'Ancouis ; Cannes-Bruldes was given to the 
Marquis d'Artagnac ; the bank opposite to De Guiche, 
De la Houssaie, and De la Houpe : Bay St. Louis to 
Madame de Mezi^res ; and Pascagoulas to Madame de 

Ship after ship began to arrive from France, loaded 
by the new great enterprise, — soldiers, officers, agents, 
concessioners, and commissioners for the Company by 
the score. In one month alone, August, 17 18, three 
ships brought over eight hundred passengers. Colo- 
nists were sent by the townful, had there been but 
towns to receive them, — sixty for the concession of M. 
Paris Duvernay, 9X the old village of the Bayagoulas, 
seventy for the concession of De la Houssaie at the Ya- 
zous ; sixty for that of De la Harpe at the Natchitoches ; 
sixty-eight for the new post on the Mississippi, to be 
called New Orleans, in honour of Law's patron, the 
Regent ; and smaller parties for smaller grants of land. 

The small establishments of Mobile and Dauphin 
Island staggered under the sudden burden put upon 
them, and Bienville's powers were more than taxed ful- 
filling the dazzling French terms of the Company, — free 
lodgings, food, and transportation to concessions. The 
concessions were scattered all over the Mississippi 
country : boats and carts had to be made to forward the 
emigrants to them ; provisions were consumed as fast 
as landed ; and the quality of the population sent, — a 
great number consisting of convicts, — forced a timely 


and earnest protest from Bienville, despite his evident 
yielding to the exhilarating current of the " boom." 
He wrote that hardly a man was sent who was fitted for 
the most necessary work. He asked that more carpen- 
ters and labourers be sent, or at least men who could 
assist in making lodgings and transportations for them- 
selves ; or that carts at least be brought with them, and 
enough provision to feed them until they reached their 
destination. His own force of workmen was over- 
whelmed ; he had to advance their pay to three dollars 
a day. " I have, nevertheless," he says, " been able to 
send M. de Uoisbriant up the Illinois with one hundred 
men, and I flatter myself it is a great deal. I do not 
fear even to assure the council that it was absolutely 
all that could have been accomplished under the 

Among the eight hundred arrivals of August was the 
acute observer and genial raconteur, the first historian of 
Louisiana, Le Page du Pratz. He' came with a force of 
ten men, and selected a tract of land to be located near 
the new city, on the banks of the Mississippi, already 
as a speculation assuming attractions to capitalists and 
emigrants. Du Pratz says his ship anchored in the open 
road before Dauphin Island. As soon as the Te Dcum 
had been sung in thankfulness for the safe voyage, the 
passengers and their effects v/ere landed. On the is- 
land he was lodged and fed, not by the Company, but 
by a friend, an old ship-captain, who treated him to the 
most wonderful good cheer, the fish particularly ehciting 
glowing praise. Bienville at the very time was absent, 
founding his city. Du Pratz' sojourn, his three days of 
waiting for the return of the commandant-general, gave 


him. an ardent desire to leave the sandy, arid crystalline 
island, which even the good cheer and companionship 
could not assuage. 

Bienville expressed his satisfaction that Du Pratz had 
selected a location near the capital, as he called it, 
for he said that a good farm near a city was often of 
greater profit than lordly lands in a wood. He bought 
from Du Pratz a compass, — paying for it, the author 
chronicles, an honest price. It was for Du Tisnd, just 
starting off for a journey by land to Canada. In a few 
days Bienville had the means of transportation in readi- 
ness, and Du Pratz, provided with a letter of introduc- 
tion to the commandant of New Orleans, De Pailleux 
hastened the departure of his party with as much joy, he 
says, as diligence. 

His boats followed the gently curving line of the Gulf 
coast, as it is called, camping the first night at the 
mouth of Pascagoula River, passing the next day before 
Biloxi, and then by Bay St. Louis, leaving Horn Island, 
Ship Island, Cat Island, behind them on the left, — the 
usual, and always beautiful, itinerary of the summer 
yacht. Going through the Rigolets, camping, en pas- 
sant, on the Isle h. Coquilles, he entered Lake Pontchar- 
train ; Pointe aux Herbes and Bayou St. Jean dropped 
behind him, and Bayou Schoupique, which was guarded 
by a fort, received him. The boats ascended it for about 
a league, and landed at the old village of the Colapissas, 
or Aqueloupissas, as Dupratz learned correctly to pro- 
nounce the name of the " nation who see and hear." 
The party was received by Jean Lavigne, a Canadian 
who had bought the village of the Aqueloupissas. Du- 
pratz sought a location for his concession on the banks 


of the Bayou St. Jean, at a short half league, he de- 
scribes it, from the situation of the capital that was to 
be, — then only designated by a clearing and a log 
barracks covered with palmetto-leaves, the lodging for 
the commandant and troops. Having apparently the 
whole of Bayou St. Jean to choose from, the author be- 
came soon the contented and undisputed possessor of 
his farm, and the delighted owner of an Indian slave, 
than whom Shezehezarade was not more entertaining to 
her master. He commenced with avidity his experi- 
ments with the soil, his observations of nature, and his 
experiences with alligators and Indians. Differing with 
one of the latter in a barter of a gun for some chickens, 
and treating his correspondent with the suspicion which 
prudence had taught him to use in such affairs with 
inhabitants of the Old World, the Indian, incensed, 
took the road to New Orleans and complained to 
Bienville. Dupratz was summoned to explain his pro- 
ceedings. He did so by exposing his opinion, or rather 
his idea, of the savages. " The governor replied," he 
narrates, " that I did not know these people yet, and 
that when I did know them, I should do them justice. 
He spoke the truth." 



On the 19th of April the " Mar^chal de Villars " and 
the "Philippe" brought into port one hundred and 
thirty passengers. Among them were De Serigny and 
his son, a midshipman ; the former, returning decorated 
with the cross of St. Louis and the advanced grade of 
" lieutenant de vaisseau," was charged with a commis- 
sion to examine and sound, with Bienville, the coast of 

But what the ships brought of most importance to the 
colony was the news of the declaration of war between 
France and Spain. At last the moment had come for 
the getting of the coveted port of Pensacola. The 
French hardly needed the advice given by the Western 
Company to Bienville some months previous to profit 
by such an opportunity. They were not the men to 
let an occasion of the kind go by default. A council 
of war was instantly summoned, and measures in all 
haste adopted to surprise the Spaniards, who, ignorant 
of the news, were carelessly basking in innocent security. 

The cargoes were discharged from the ships, and on 
the 13th of May De Serigny sailed out of the roadstead 

1 De Serigny's noaps form the beginning of the scientific carto 
graphy of the Mississippi delta. 


of Dauphin Island, followed by the *' Mardchal de Villars" 
and the " Comte de Toulouse," which latter vessel for- 
tunately was in port at the time. They carried an army 
of a hundred and fifty soldiers. Bienville, with eighty 
men, sailed in a sloop. 

Bienville gives the facts of his victory in his official 
report *^o the minister. The approaches to the victory 
are the pleasant duty of the early historians, Dupratz 
and Dumont, whose enjoyment of what they describe 
is communicated to readers of the present day. 

With a fair wind the ships made a good run to Isle 
Ste. Rosa, the outpost of the Spaniards. Anchoring 
as close to land as possible, the troops disembarked un- 
perceived, and easily mastered the small guard stationed 
there. Putting their prisoners in irons and assuming 
their uniforms, and forcing the Spanish drummer to beat 
as usual, the Spaniards who came out at daybreak the 
next morning to relieve guard were as easily seized, 
disarmed, and deprived of their uniforms, which served 
to disguise more of their enemies. The Spanish-uni- 
formed Frenchmen embarking in the boat that had 
brought out the guard, crossed the bay, entered the fort, 
surprised the sentinels on duty, and captured the whole 
place, — soldiers, magazine, store-house, and the com- 
mandant, who was still in bed, and who claimed this as 
his first notification of the rupture between the two Gov- 
ernments. Bienville says in his despatch that simply 
the commandant surrendered the fort at four o'clock in 
the afternoon, that he put his brother Chateauguay in 
command, and according to the terms of capitulation to 
deliver his prisoners in the nearest port, shipped the 
entire garrison for Havana on his two ships, the " Comte 


de Toulouse " and the " Mar^chal de Villars," under 
comn^and of De Richebourg ; he then returned to 
Mobile. The Governor of Havana was not devoid of 
ingenuity himself. He received De Richebourg most 
ceremoniously, thanking him for the politeness of his 
visit ; but no sooner were the prisoners in his hands than 
he captured the capturers, with their ships, placing the 
soldiers in irons, and putting the entire crew, officers 
and all, into prison, and, according to the French ac- 
counts, treated them so hardly, fed them so badly, and 
insulted them so grievously that most of the soldiers 
deserted to him, to deliver themselves. He then 
equipped the French vessels with a Spanish crew, 
Spanish soldiers, and some of the French deserters, and 
sent them, with his squadron, to retake the lost Pensa- 
cola. They came in sight of it on the 3d of August. 
The Spanish vessels drew up behind Isle Ste. Rosa. 
The French vessels, flying the French colours, boldly en- 
tered the channel. To the challenge of the sentry they 
answered, " De Richebourg." Scarcely was anchor 
dropped, however, than the French flag was lowered, 
the Spanish run up, and three cannon-shots were fired. 
At the signal, the rest of the sqviadron made their ap- 
pearance, twelve sail in all. The next day eighteen 
hundred men were landed, and began the assault. 

Although the return visit of the Spaniards was expected, 
and in a measure prepared for, Chateauguay found his 
means of defence as totally inadequate as his rivals' had 
been. Sixty of his soldiers immediately abandoned him, 
escaping from the fort and joining the enemy. The rest 
showing every disposition to follow their example, no 
choice was left, upon the summons to surrender, but 


capitulation. He obtained the sortie, with all the hon- 
ours of war, and transportation to Old Spain, — a more 
genial and more advantageous place of imprisonment 
than Havana, under the circumstances. He was never- 
theless sent to Havana. At the news of the Spaniards' 
reappearance at Pensacola, Serigny had hastened by 
land to Chateauguay's assistance with a troop of sav- 
ages and soldiers ; but hearing of his surrender mid- 
way from some fugitive slaves, he turned, and marched 
as rapidly back to Dauphin Island to prepare for what 
he had no doubt would be the next step in the Spanish 

In truth, he had hardly arrived at the island before the 
advance of the Spanish flotilla was sighted. Three brig- 
antines approached, from one of which a boat was sent 
to the Company's ship, " Le Philippe," with an officer 
charged with a letter to the captain. The missive, dated 
**on board 'Notre Dame de Vigogne,' 13th August, 
1 71 9, at ten o'clock in the morning," contained an im- 
perative summons for the surrender of the ship, without 
any damage to it, under penalty of the captain's being 
treated as an incendiary, and all the French, including 
Chateauguay and his garrison, accorded no quarter. A 
cordial reception, on the contrary, was promised all those 
who freely and willingly gave themselves up. 

The captain of the " Philippe " sent the Spanish officer 
with his letter ashore to Serigny, who, according to the 
" Journal Historique," received him surrounded by his 
soldiers, Canadians, and savages in all their war-paint 
and greed of scalps ; and according to Bienville, told 
him that the Spaniards could come when they pleased, 
they would find the French prepared to receive them. 



In the mean time a reinforcement of soldiers was 
passed on board the "Philippe." 

During the night one of the brigantines entered the 
bay and did considerable damage, capturing two boats 
of provisions sent by Serigny to Bienville, and pillaging 
and burning a settlement belonging to a company of 
Canadians on the Mobile coast, half way between the 
fort and the island, where a great deal of property had 
been sent from the latter place for security, and of which 
the booty consequently was large. 

Fortunately that night Bienville was sending a rein- 
forcement of white men and Indians to his brother. 
These fell upon the marauders. Very few escaped. 
Five were killed, the Indians scalping them, six were 
drowned trying to regain their boats, and eighteen were 
taken prisoners. Of these latter, the deserters from the 
French had their heads broken with a hatchet, in default 
of an executioner to inflict the legal capital punishment. 
As it was impossible to defend the bay or the mouth of 
the river, no more boats of provisions, or otherwise, were 
risked to Bienville. All forces were turned to putting 
Dauphin Island in a state of defence. 

During a high tide the " Philippe " was brought in to 
within a pistol-shot of land, and made fast with pile and 
cable in a deep hole, or kind of bay, to the west of the 
island. With all her guns bristling on the ocean tide, 
and her reinforced equipage, she presented, for the times, 
a formidable citadel of defence to the enemy. 

An intrenched battery of three twelve-pounders was 
placed to command the old channel. The rest of the 
island was patrolled by Serigny, who, the accounts say, 
multiplied himself into being everywhere with his mixed 


force, the regulars of which, Bienville says, were more 
to be dreaded than the enemy. 

Three days after the brigantines the rest of the Spanish 
fleet, including the captured French vessels, hove in 
sight, and anchored in the roadstead. Once or twice a 
demonstration of attack was made, which was warded off 
with a counter-demonstration. Neither daring to land 
nor approach within gimshot of the " Philippe " or the 
battery, the fleet contented itself with remaining in its 
position for fourteen days, and canonading boats from a 
safe and harmless distance. 

On the 24th, signs of departure were observed among 
the sails ; by the 28th all had disappeared, with the ex- 
ception of two large vessels left to cruise before the 
island and intercept its water communication. 

The long stay of the Spanish fleet excited apprehen- 
sions among the French that it was waiting to be joined 
by the squadron from Vera Cruz. When, therefore, on 
the ist of September, sails were again sighted in the 
Gulf, as no ships were expected from France, the gen- 
eral anxiety became keen. It changed to wildest joy 
as three war-ships of the royal navy neared, escorting 
two loaded vessels belonging to the Company. They 
were the " Hercules," of sixty cannon, under the Comte 
de Champmeslin, the " Mars," of fifty-eight, and the 
" Triton," of fifty-six cannon. The Company's ship, the 
" Union," armed with forty-eight cannon, brought one 
hundred and ninety-nine passengers, and the fleet 
" Marie " a freight of provisions and merchandise. 
The Spanish cruisers took flight for Pensacola. 

As soon as the good news reached him, Bienville 
hastened from Mobile, and with Serigny went aboard 


Champmeslin's ship, where a council of all the officers, 
military and marine, was held. The recapture of Pen- 
sacola and capture of the Spanish fleet was the unani- 
mous determination ; but it was decided not to proceed 
without a fortnight's preparation. The Company's ships, 
which were to be joined to the men-of-war, had to be 
unloaded, the "Philippe "to be got out to sea ai;ain 
and put in trim, and Bienville needed time to get his 
Indians together again and prepare their provisions. 
It was agreed that Champmeslin should take command 
of the fleet, and that Bienville, at the head of a company 
of soldiers and volunteers, should go in sloops as far as 
the Perdido River, where one of his officers was to meet 
him with five hundred Indians, — all of which was car- 
ried into effect. On the 15th of September the start 
was made. By the evening of the i6th Bienville had 
invested the fort by land, so that no escape on that side 
was possible. The next morning Champmeslin led his 
fleet into the bay. The large fort made very little de- 
fence. The small one on Ste. Rosa Island and the ships 
fought gallantly for two hours, at the end of which all 
surrendered. The plundering of the large fort was given 
to the Indians, who acquitted themselves, says the " Jour- 
nal Historique," as men who knew their trade ; but there 
was no scalping, Bienville having given orders against it. 
The same authority also states that Bienville restrained 
the ardour of his troops and held them back until Champ- 
meslin had terminated his action, that the latter might 
have the honours of the day, but that when the pillaging 
of the fort was completed, Champmeslin took possession 
of forts and ships, assigned the commands, decided upon 
the prisoners, and received the swords of the Spanish 


officers, trenching upon the rights of Bienville as com- 
mander of the province of Louisiana, and therefore as 
the sole appointer of landed commands — which Bien- 
ville bore without protestation, for fear of prejudicing 
the service of the king. 

Thirty-five of the French deserters were found among 
the Spanish prisoners. They were tried before a coun- 
cil of war ; twelve were condemned to be hanged (and 
were hangea from the mast of the recaptured " Comte de 
Toulouse "), and the rest sent to the galleys. 

It had been hoped that large quantities of munitions 
of war and provisions would be found in the fort. To 
the disappointment of the conquerors, the stores con- 
tained only a fifteen days' supply. Champmeslin was 
obliged, to get rid of feeding his prisoners, to send them 
to Havana on one of the captured ships. He retained 
the superior officers as sureties, and demanded a re- 
turn of French prisoners, whose fate, according to a 
letter received from Chateauguay, was hardly in accord- 
ance with the articles of war. The Governor of Havana 
had not wished to give food either to officers or sailors, 
and the latter were forced to carry stone and do other 
work to gain a subsistence. 

Stores were replenished by several Spanish vessels of 
provisions, decoyed into the old port by the exhibition 
of their national flags, — one, a " pink," carried eighty 
soldiers, of whom it is chronicled with evident satisfac- 
tion that although well clothed in good uniforms, they 
were not despoiled of them. 

One of the Company's vessels, loaded with merchan- 
dise for Dauphin Island, and with a present of wine and 
delicacies from the Company to the officers, was sig- 


nailed into the new French port. The officers, not need- 
ing the wine and delicacies, disposed of them at very 
great profit. 

The supineness of the Spaniard under dispossession 
was not to be counted on in the future. Before sail- 
ing away with his squadron, in October, Champmeslin 
burned the fort and all the buildings behind him, 
and left only an officer, with a file of men and some 
savages, in charge, and to give notice of a new Spanish 

Bienville writes bitterly of the character and insuf- 
ficiency of his forces, the cause of this unsatisfactory 
proceeding ; — 

" The Council will permit me to represent to it that it 
is very disagreeable for an officer in charge of a colony to 
have, to defend it, only a band of deserters, convicts, and 
rascals who are always ready, not only to abandon you, but 
even to turn against you. What attachment to the country 
can these people have, who are sent here by force, and 
who have no hope of returning to their mother-country ? 
Can one believe that they will not use all their efforts to 
deliver themselves from such a situation, particularly in a 
country as open as this is, by going either to the side of 
the English or the Spaniards ? It seems to me that it is 
absolutely necessary, if it is desired to preserve this colony 
to the king, to send as much as possible only willing men, 
and to endeavour to procure for life here more comforts 
than have been enjoyed up to the present. ... At any 
rate, what population we have in the colony is so scattered 
among the different establishments that our only forces 
are the savages, of whom we cannot make use at present, 
owing to the scarcity of provisions. If we had sufficient 
force we should be able to maintain ourselves against any 


efforts of the Spaniards, although they are, with the neigh- 
bouring Havana and Vera Cruz, very powerful, — unless 
they should send large vessels to cruise on our coasts and 
capture the suppUes sent from France, which is their idea, 
from what we have heard from the French deserters. In 
this manner it would be very easy for them to throw us in 
the last extremity, and put it out of our power to preserve 
the colony, if the Company does not send us means strong 
enough to make our coasts secure." 



Grown suddenly by its influx of population and 
interests beyond its primitive colonial administration of 
judgment, Louisiana had reached the need of the legal 
forms and practices common to the civilized world from 
which it sprang. The Company of the West responded 
with adequate provisions ; but the uncertainty which 
human character and temperament throws into all ap- 
pointments, caused the usual disappointments and re- 
tardation of public affairs. Under the circumstances, 
the prolongation for a short period of gubernatorial 
arbitrariness (if such existed) would have been better 
for the colony. 

The Superior Council of the capital, which held a 
sitting once a month, was retained and reformed, to in- 
clude the governor, Bienville, Hubert, the commissaire 
ordonnateur, first councillor Boisbriant, and Chateauguay, 
royal officers, with three other councillors chosen from 
among other directors or agents of the Company, an 
attorney-general, and a secretary. This was an appel- 
late court for the smaller councils, or inferior tribunals, 
established in every locality where sufficient population 
could be found to furnish the constituting elements, — 
an agent of the Company and two ** notable" inhabitants. 


Although, as M. Gayarrd notes, Bienville occupied 
the place of honour at the council, the real president was 
the first rouncillor, Hubert, who in any division of senti- 
ment would as naturally rally the Company's employees 
to his side, as Bienville would his brother and cousin. 
Unfortunately in such a division the majority of voices 
would not have expressed, and did not express, the best 
practical knowledge and judgment. And it was this 
practical knowledge and judgment that the situation of 
Louisiana demanded. 

There were the usual Indian troubles to the north ; 
more than usually grave, in that the English were more 
than usually successful in their machinations among 
Chickasaws and Choctaws ; but as long as the Missis- 
sippi was kept open and safe for the French, the rush 
of development of the country by the hard-pressed capi- 
talists of the Company in France, left the local rulers 
of it no time or thought for its defence, beyond Bien- 
ville's persistently warning the French against the Eng- 
lish traders. 

The Mississippi scheme was beginning to become the 
Mississippi bubble. Inflation was preparing its usual 
result of immolation. But the victims in the Old World 
were financial, those in the new, human ; and the wrecks 
of the fortunes which strewed the Rue Quincampoix 
were more than matched by the corpses that strewed 
the beaches of Dauphin Island and Biloxi. 

In 1720 the ships from France brought in emigrants 
by tlse hundred, hundred and fifty, two hundred, four 
hundred, — the '' fillings " for titled concessions, or the 
deluded peasants and traders, whose sordid economies 
had been expended for the seigneurial estates, with future 


nobility and fortune, in the New World, so temptingly 
put upon the market of a war-scraped, famine-stricken 
country by the wonderful new Company, with its won- 
derful new patent for coining money from " faith," as 
credulity was termed. 

Landed upon the sands of Dauphin Island, ill from 
the voyage, without shelter, with insufficient food, unable 
to get away, unable to find work, or gain anything by 
cultivating the arid soil, tortured and blinded by the daz- 
zling crystalline sand under the r.ys of a tropical sun, 
exposed to the infections of the ships from the islands, 
always waiting and hoping for the delayed transportation 
inland, it is easy to believe the statement that most of 
the unfortunates died of their misery. 

The directors of the Company, finding themselves 
more and more helpless before the increasing compli- 
cations of their situation, more and more inadequate to 
meet the increasing demands upon them, panic-stricken 
at the crisis which they foresaw impending, could, in 
their ignorances, grievances, and divided counsels, think 
of no remedial expedient but a change of base. 

Bienville exerted himself in vain in favour of his pro- 
ject, — establishment upon the Mississippi, its coloniza- 
tion by the direct transportation of emigrants to farms 
on its rich alluvial soil, and their immediate self-support 
by agriculture. 

Hubert had his counter-project, which he had already 
recommended to the Company, a year before, — the 
centralizing of the colony at Biloxi, with Ship Island 
fortified as a port. Absurd as it seems now, absurd as 
it must have appeared then to the men who had lived 
through one experiment at that spot, Hubert's project 


was adopted by the Superior Council, and received the 
indorsement of the Company. Biloxi henceforth was to 
be the capital. The move was effected with all haste, to 
the great expense to the Company, and loss to the colo- 
nists. By 1 72 1 Dauphin Island was a way station, Ship 
Island the receiving port, and Biloxi the depot of mer- 
chandise and emigrants. The sequel is lamentable. 

The number of emigrants increased instead of dimin- 
ishing, and the quality of them worsened with every ship- 
load. The Company, to keep up its " boom " before its 
shareholders in France by its tide of emigration, was 
exporting its scrapings of asylums, hospitals, reforma- 
tories, and its midnight nettings of Paris streets by its 
paid dog-catchers of humanity. And, in addition, slave- 
ships began to answer the demand, by bringing in their 
naked, reeking African cargo of misery, degradation, and 
wretchedness, to be dumped like ballast on Biloxi beach. 
The historians and romancers of the time describe the 
French side of this peopling of the Mississippi. What 
took place as a result in Louisiana, in the absence 
of private letters, must be inferred from such a casual 
entry into the *' Journal Historique " as, " 4th April, 
1 72 1, M. Berranger . . . was sent to Cape Francois; 
he was to fetch back corn for food for the negroes who 
were dying of hunger and misery on the sands of Fort 
Louis," and from the careful description of Le Page 
Du Pratz. At the solicitation of his friend, who had 
large concessions and larger expectations there, he had 
changed the location of his farm from New Orleans to 
Natchez. About two years after his settlement there he 
made a trip down the river to New Orleans to sell some 
of his commodities, and also having heard that all let- 


ters sent to France were intercepted, he wished to 
assure himself of some reliable means of communi- 
cation. And a propos of this, he relates that although 
not on friendly terms with the commandant of Natchez, 
who was anxious to ingratiate himself with the governor 
at the expense of everybody, he offered to take charge 
of any letters which the former might have for the latter. 
The commandant said he had no letters, in spite of the 
fact that Du Pratz knew he had letters for Bienville. 
Du Pratz, equal to him, however, obtained from his 
head clerk a certificate that he had so offered and been 
refused. Arrived in New Orleans, and hearing of the ar- 
rival of some new concessioners at Biloxi, he determined 
to take his commodities there. Paying his respects to 
the governor in Biloxi, Bienville asked that official if 
he had no letters for him. He was told that Du 
Pratz had asked for letters and been refused; upon 
which he said, coldly, that Du Pratz had not wished 
to take charge of them. " For all reply," says the 
historian, " I pulled out the certificate and showed it 
him." And then he goes on with, — 

" I never could divine the reason why the principal es- 
tabhshment of the colony should have been placed in that 
spot, or why it should have been wished to locate the capital 
there ; nothing could have been more contrary to good 
sense, for not only vessels could not approach it nearer 
than four leagues, but, what was more vexatious, nothing 
could be discharged from the ships there without three 
changes from smaller to smaller boats, — and even, to dis- 
charge the smallest boats, carts had to be sent out over a 
hundred paces into the water. And what should still have 
averted the establishment of Biloxi is that the soil is of 
the most sterile ; it is nothing but fine sand, white and 


brilliant, on which it is impossible to make a vegetable 
grow ; and in addition, one was extremely annoyed by the 
rats, which swarm there, which gnaw even the wood of the 
guns. The famine had been so great there that more than 
five hundred persons had died of hunger. Bread was very 
dear, meat very scarce ; there was only fish, in which the 
place abounds, and which was tolerably plentiful. The 
famine arose from the arrival of so many of the concession- 
ers together, so that not enough provisions were on hand 
to feed them, nor boats to transport them to their destina- 
tion, as the Company was obligated to do. What saved 
some, was the great quantity of oysters found along the 
shore ; but to get them, one had to go out in the water, up 
to the thighs, a distance of a gunshot from the shore. If 
this food nourished some, it made others ill, which was also 
due to the long time they had to stay in the water." 

" Most of the dead bodies found lying by heaps of 
oyster-shells were Germans," says Dumont, — Law's colo- 
nists for his own concessions on the Arkansas ; the most 
regretted of his victims, on account of the sterling quali- 
ties of the survivors, who have perpetuated their good 
record of honest laboriousness to this day. The disas- 
ters were not all land disasters ; the Company's vessels, 
as well as the colony, are arraigned by such items in the 
"Journal Historique " as : " ist March, 172 1 . . . Ar- 
rived, forty Germans for the concession of M. Law, the 
remains of two hundred embarked ; the others had died 
during the voyage. 1 7th, * L'Africain ' . . . arrived with 
one hundred and ninety negroes of Inida, of two hun- 
dred and ninety shipped." — " 23d . . . Arrived with 
three hundred and fourteen negroes, of four hundred 
and fifty-three shipped." — " 20th April . . . The frigate 
* N^r^ide,' . . . two hundred and ninety-four negroes, 


the remains of three hundred and fifty, . . . bringing 
the news that the frigate * Charles,' loaded with negroes, 
had been burned more than sixty miles from the coast, 
that most of the crew had perished, that those who 
were saved had suffered much from hunger and thirst, 
having been reduced to load their sloops with several 
negroes for subsistence ; " and other similar tragedies 
that might be cited. 

A drunken sleeping sergeant, by letting his lighted 
pipe fall in his tent, started a fire which consumed Bi- 
loxi to the ground and terminated its history as the 
capital of Louisiana. 

A council of all the colonial executive directors, engi- 
neers, and officers was held, and another transference of 
headquarters was decided upon. Bienville again made 
an effort in favour of the Mississippi and New Orleans, 
again set forth his arguments, which were backed with 
ro less authority than that of Diron d'Artaguette, the 
director-general of Louisiana for the Company ; and 
again Hubert made test of strength, and again proved 
his majority of votes in the council. Hubert, associat- 
ing New Orleans with its founder, and the Mississippi 
with New Orleans, had become as violent an opponent 
of both as Cadillac, for the same reasons, had been. 
And Hubert's friends had become his partisans against 
what they also considered a rival platform of a rival 
and Canadian government. The point of land opposite 
Deer Island, called thenceforth New Biloxi, was chosen 
for the seat of government, and orders for its establish- 
ment carried into effect at once, regardless, as before, 
of expense to the Company and loss to the colonists. 

Bienville met the persistent denial, in the face of ex- 


perience, of the possibility of loaded vessels entering the 
mouth of the Mississippi, by the proposition to send the 
" Dromadaire," one of the Company's vessels then in 
port, through it, as a test. One of the directors, Le 
Gac, opposed this violently, on the strength of a certifi- 
cate of the Captain of the " Dromadaire " that his ves- 
sel could not get through the mouth of the river. Bien- 
ville then took it upon himself to declare that he would 
send the vessel through it on his own responsibility, 
Le Gac warning him, if he did so, that he would be 
held liable for any consequent damages. The ** Dro- 
madaire " was in fact carried triumphantly through the 
passes some months later. 

In France, the Mississippi scheme had become the 
Mississippi bubble ; Collapse had succeeded to inflation. 
The Louisiana directors, taxed on all sides for contri- 
bution to the disaster by the extravagance of their ex- 
penditures, and for the discreditable disorders and 
wretchedness in the colony, which letters and rumours 
had made a public scandal in France, vented some of 
their bitterness upon their colonial vicegerent, in a 
letter dated 20th October, 1 720, — a letter of which Bien- 
ville's organ, the " Journal Historique," gives a version 
with indignation. The Company had heard with grief 
that a complete division between Bienville and the di- 
rectors had thrown the affairs of the colony into a fright- 
ful state of chaos ; he could conceive the effect that 
such news, spread throughout the kingdom, had produced 
on all minds. The Company had l)een blamed for ap- 
pointing rulers so negligent of the Company's interests, 
so careful of their own. His Royal Highness thought 
Bienville the author of all the disorders, and that far 


from keeping the promise given to accord him the grade 
of brigadier in the royal army, and to raise him to com- 
mander in the order of St. Louis, had taken a stand 
very unfavourable to him ; and notwithstanding the ex- 
planations of the directors that it was the Company's 
agents who had thwarted the governor in every way, 
the prince had replied that the favours of kings were only 
given for effective services, and that to deserve them 
Bienville must show himself worthy of them. The di- 
rectors added that a new director-in-chief of the Com- 
pany would be sent to Louisiana, from whom — most 
optimistically, it must seem — they hoped a better future. 

As the honours withheld had been announced to him 
as accorded by both the Company and the Minister of 
War, Bienville, says the ** Journal Historique," was ex- 
ceedingly mortified. His first idea was to write to his 
Royal Highness himself, not on account of the lost tes- 
timonials, but to rehabilitate his reputation, and fix the 
blame of the state of affairs in Louisiana on the right 
parties, by showing that his authority had been so cur- 
tailed that he could lOt even nominate his own officers 
to commission, but could only recommend them to the 
Company's agents. 

If the letter was written, it has not been retained in 
the official documents ; and mayhap the only answer the 
reprimand received from Bienville was a more vigorous 
pushing forward of his dominant idea, infused by the 
Company's hope that the new director-general would in- 
deed inaugurate a better future. His determination 
was to prove beyond peradventure his scheme, — not 
only the practicable one, but the only practicable one, 
in the eyes of all, even of his bitterest opponents. The 


Company, by sending a corps of capable engineers to 
Louisiana, had made the proof of the navigability of 
the Mississippi a question of science, not of personahty 
or partisanship, as it had been. As usual, Bienville was 
not slow in turning circumstances to his profit. The 
Sieur le Blond de la Tour, chief of the engineers for 
Louisiana, being detained from sailing by illness, his 
second in command, the Sieur Pauger, preceded him to 
Biloxi with the workmen. One infers from after events 
that during the interval between his and his chiefs ar- 
rival, Pauger was made by Bienville an advocate of the 
advantages of his colonial plan as against Hubert's; 
and a similar inference supposes an early conversion of 
De la Tour, if not to Hubert's scientifically untenable 
topographical position, to his prejudices. The results 
were as grievous a difference between the two engineers 
as that of which the Company complained between the 
commissary and the governor, but the gaining of his 
point by Bienville. 

After the completion of the engineering work at New 
Biloxi, De la Tour, ill again, was forced to send his lieu- 
tenant in his place to perform the much-needed work 
of laying out New Orleans as a regular city, as Pauger 
explains it. Hampered and retarded as usual by the 
agents of the Company, he accomplished the task, — 
cleared the neglected space, alligned the streets, as- 
signed allotments, and made a plan of the whole, con- 
taining the names of the owners to the allotments, which 
he forwarded to the council, receiving their approval. 

During an enforced respite in this work, and after its 
completion, he made two trips to the mouth of the river, 
sounding the passes, making a map of them, and writ- 



ing a report upon them, "thinking," as he wrote to 
the Company, '' that bo much zeal and hard work would 
gratify the Company. Instead, he had received a repri- 
mand for assuming authority which did not belong to 
him, his zeal being made a crime, on the false reports 
of commissioners, who, for all their reporting upon offi- 
cers, are not the more faithful in performance of their 
duty, but are the ':ause of all the discord in the colony." 
There is a more satisfactory reason for Pauger's repri- 
mand, in a communication from the governor to the 
minister, dated a few days prior to Pauger's letter. 
Bienville's encloses Pauger's written report of the river, 
and a map, " sent surreptitiously," he says, " Pauger not 
wishing to give it without order of his superior." 

The documents were final in their reach, — they killed 
Biloxi, and assured the future of New Orleans. The 
soundings guaranteed a free entrance through the passes 
for third-class vessels ; the insuperable obstacle, the bar, 
was found to be a shifting deposit of mud, removable 
under a full current of the river, which Pauger proposed 
to guard against, by a simple plan, enclosed, of stopping 
certain outlets and jettying certain localities. 

Just at the time, June, 1721, the news of Law's failure 
and flight reached the colony. All enterprise, all hope, 
was for the moment paralyzed, and an epidemic of the 
panic of the distant capital seemed imminent. But ships, 
emigrants, soldiers, and merchandise continued to ar- 
rive j and whatever the depths to which the paper valua- 
tions of her resources could descend, in France and on 
the spot, through the flimsy card currency imposed upon 
the community, Louisiana herself held steadily solvent 
to all investors of honest work in her soil ; and such in™ 


vestors, despite all others* failures, had become more 
and more numerous and confident. 

Bienville, himself, continued the pressing upon the 
Company of Pauger's documents, and his arguments and 
his objections to the wasting of men, work, and money 
on Ship Island and Biloxi. He writes again, assuring 
them that vessels drawing thirteen feet could enter the 
river under full sail without touching bottom, and that it 
would not be difficult to render the pass practicable for 
larger vessels. 

" I should already have had work done upon it if the en- 
gineers whose duty it particularly is were of the same 
opinion; but they were solely occupied with Biloxi. . . . 
Have taken upon myself to send through the river two 
flutes, one of three hundred, and one of four hundred tons. 
They entered under full sail. I should have done the same 
with others that have lately arrived, if such precise orders 
had not been given to discharge these vessels at Biloxi." 

He repeated Du Pratz' description of the costly and 
tedious methods of unloading which the choice of 
Biloxi imposed upon the Company. 



In the summer of 172 1 the new director-general, Du- 
vergier, announced by the Company, arrived. His com- 
mission made him commandant of marine, and president 
of the Superior Council, with a salary of twenty thou- 
sand livres a year. Although he bro'ight to Bienville the 
augmentation of his salary to an equal figure, to Cha- 
teauguay and Boisbrillant the cross of St. Louis, and to 
the younger officers, among them Bienville's nephew, 
De Noyau, advanced grades, his own prerogatives and 
authority more than counterbalanced the effect of these 
gratifications. Bienville saw himself again superseded 
at the council ; Chateauguay imagined that his rank of 
captain and services entitled him to the command of 
the marine ; and each member of the Canadian staff 
saw some cause of resentment in the manner in which 
his rightful authority, as he considered it, was adminis- 
tered by another foreigner, a stranger in the colony, an 
alien to all the past hardships and vicissitudes. 

But there were still hardships and vicissitudes enough 
in the colony, at least around Biloxi, to graduate any 
new-comer through experience to merit according to 
the curriculum ol :olonial education. There was not 
only the same problem to feed the emigrants and ne- 
groes that arrived, and the large body of soldier and 


workman gathered around headquarters, but there were 
all the disorders to be anticipated from the indiscrim- 
inate sowings of convicts and vagrants in a new, thinly 
settled, flimsily protected Government. 

Garrisons in distant posts deserted in squads to the 
English when they did not join the savages in ambus- 
cading and waylaying their late commanders. Crews 
mutinied, capturing their vessels and sailing off to the 
Caribbean Islands. Between Ship Island and the mouth 
of the river the sloops of workmen would also rid them- 
selves of overseers and guards, and make a landing, 
which could easily enable them in any direction to at- 
tain liberty and license. And again, the Indians along 
the watercourses were raising their hands against 

In September, the c lony learn^'d that the Company 
of the Indies had been put in liquidation. Three com- 
missioners landed, charged to examine into the accounts 
of the colony. As Hubert had not kept a written regis- 
ter of his accounts, he was summoned to render them 
orally before Bienville and the rest of the directors capa- 
ble of passing upon them, — which, says the "Journal 
Historique," embarrassed him very much. He excused 
Bienville ; but when the other directors straightened out 
his affairs for him, Bienville, at their solicitation, signed 
the statement. 

Duvergier enjoyed but a short period of his authority, 
which he seems to have exercised mainly, according to 
his subordinates, in arbitrary making and unmaking of 
officers in his marine. Bienville, a ttw months later, was 
given the precedence at the council board ; but with a 
reduction of salary to twelve thousand livres a year, — 


which, however, as he was informed by the Company, 
was no reduction at all, as it was to be paid in cur- 
rency. In the spring of 1722 Duvergier returned to 
France loaded with written complaints and affidavits 
against different individuals, promising to procure the 
dismissal of Bienville, Boisbrillant, and Chateauguay. 
and the cassation of several minor officers. Hubert fol- 
lowed him to France some months afterwards, voicing the 
same kind intentions, in spite of a seeming reconcilia- 
tion which Father Charlevoix, passing through the colony, 
effected between him and Bienville. The directors and 
engineers were still spending money and work upon 
Biloxi, with their fixed idea of the permanency of the 
position as headquarters of the colony ; buildings were 
being erected there, a hospital was being put upon Deer 
Island, the plan of a fort made and adopted for Ship 
Island, — when in May, 1722, two new commissioners 
from the Company in France arrived, Messieurs de San- 
noy and De la Chaise. Assuming control of the ad- 
ministration and the regulation of the long-standing 
confusion in the accounts between Crozat and the Com- 
pany of the Indies, they inaugurated their rule by ter- 
minating, in Bienville's favour, his long contest with a 
past decade of governors, agents, directors, and com- 
missaries. They ordered the transportation of the 
seat of government to New Orleans, and, as Bienville 
also had urged, the establishment of a post on the 
Arkansas, by which communication could be kept open 
between *he lower colony and the Illinois, and the in- 
troduction of live-stock from the Spanish possessions 
in the West 2ffected. A memorial, or manifesto, in 
twelve articles, regulated anew the tariff for slaves and 


merchandise, currency and budget of expenses, divided 
I^uisiana into five civil and three great reh'gious dis- 
tricts, and exhorted, in the last article, a more regular 
attention to Christian duties than had been observed 
in the past. All evidences bespoke, instead of an aban- 
donment of Louisiana in consequence of Law's failure, 
a reasonable and judicious pushing forward of the 

De la Tour, however, was made lieutenant-general of 
the province, which ( " Journal Historique ") was taken 
as a mortifying rebuff by Bienville and Chateauguay. 
The commissioners brought also the announcement of 
the re-establishment to health of the king, and his mar^ 
riage with the Infanta of Spain, and also the marriage 
of the Prince of Asturias with Mademoiselle Montpen^ 
sier. Public rejoicings were ordered for the occasion, 
and the sending of a boat, with felicitations, to Havana 
and Vera Cruz, — a very appropriate suggestion, remarks 
the "Journal Historique," if there were thought in it 
for the advantages of secret commerce. The Te Detini 
was sung, and the ceremony of blessing the flags was 
performed. Bienville presented De la Tour to the troops 
as lieutenant-general of the colony, at five o'clock in the 
afternoon all the vessels in port fired three salutes with 
cannon and musketry, and at night there were " feux de 
joie." The double alliance between the two Crowns 
made the longer retention of Pensacola hopelessly im- 
possible. It was formally surrendered to its original 
owners in the beginning of the year 1723. The work 
of transference of the capital to New Orleans was begun 
without delay, and prosecuted with vigour. On the loth 
of June (1722) De la Tour and Pnuger both sailed as 


avant-coureurs, to take the pink " Aventurier " througli 
the mouth of the Mississippi. Word was brough*; back 
that she had passed the bar on the ist of July. Other 
boats followed, with men, building materials, ammuni- 
tion, and provisions. Under De la Tour's supervision, 
the prospective city took form and shape. A church 
and houses were built, levees thrown up, ditches dug, 
and a great canal was constructed in the rear for drain- 
age. A cemetery was located, and a quay constructed, 
protected with palisades. Bienville arrived and took 
up his residence there in August. To Pauger was as- 
signed a post at the Belize. With fifty workmen and 
a dredge-boat, his admirable sagacity and enterprise 
performed marvels in an incredibly short time, working 
for the colony and New Orleans as no one had ever 
worked for it but Bienville. Besides keeping a pass 
open, he built, out of the drift caught from the river, 
lodgings, store-houses, boats, a smithy, and a chapel with 
a belfry that could serve for a lighthouse ; while his 
garden furnished the gladdest of welcomes both to the 
eye and heart of the weary incoming sea-traveller. 

New Orleans, however, had no more fortunate begin- 
nings than Mobile or Biloxi. In the midst of the build- 
ing and transportation, the September storm came on 
with a hitherto unexperienced violence. For five days 
the furious south wind, raging from east to W3st, swept 
land and sea. The ripened crops of rice, corn, and 
beans were utterly destroyed, the houses and buildings 
of the planters blown down. In New Orleans the 
church, hospital, and most of the new edifices were 
demolished, and three vessels wrecked in the river. 
At Biloxi, the magazine, with all the stores, and a ship 


with its cargo of ammunition and food, were destroyed ; 
almost all the boats, sloops, and pirogues were lost, 
and two ships rendered totally unfit for service. For 
a week the greatest apprehensions were suffered on 
account of the three ships anchored at Ship Island 
and the " Dromadaire," on its way to the mouth of the 
river with the pine timber for a storehouse which had 
cost the Company over a hundred thousand livres ; and 
the first comfort in the desolation came from the news 
that none of the vessels had suffered. The " Droma- 
daire " had ridden through the storm in safety at the 
mouth of the river, the other vessels at their harbourage 
at Ship Island. All of them arrived in course of time 
at New Orleans, passing, as it was invariably recorded at 
the time, with facility and safety over the bar. An- 
other crop of rice came up from the seeds scattered by 
the storm, — a proof of the fertility of the land, which 
came also as a great consolatijon to the colonists ; but 
the destruction of other food which could not be re- 
placed, brought upon them the affliction of another 
one of those short, sharp, cruel terms of famine suffered 
in the old days of government neglect. And with the 
proverbial generosity of misfortune in New Orleans, 
the fevers that always follow a midsummer turning-up 
of the soil there, broke out, with great mortality. The 
indomitable Bienville himself fell dangerously ill, and 
for a long time his life was despaired of, — an illness 
which the "Journal Historique" attributes to grief at 
so many contre-temps in the colony, and finding him- 
self, after twenty-three years of service upon it, with 
no assured rank in it. Writing to the minister, Feb- 
ruary I, 1723, he, however, makes no allusion to his 


fever or other illness, reporting only the rendition 
of Pensacola, the goodly quantity of scalps brought 
back by the Choctavvs from the war-path upon which 
he had sent them against the Chickasaws, the complete 
abandonment of Biloxi, where only one military com- 
pany remained, and his work of establishing a battery 
and garrison at the mouth of the river to protect it 
" from insult." 

Within six months the newly restored Spaniards at 
Pensacola renewed their ancient neighbourly relations. 
The commandant wrote to Bienville, asking the loan 
of some provisions until his supplies, which were daily 
expected, arrived from Vera Cruz, offering to come 
to New Orleans for them. Bienville and the council, 
however, with more wisdom than the Spaniards had 
shown in regard to Pensacola, in consenting to the 
loan, waived the compliment of the visit, with its im- 
politic results of introducing the Spaniards to the mouth 
of the river and the state of the city, by delivering 
the provisions asked in Mobile. 

The disaffected Natchez tribes had gradually recov- 
ered from the crushing punishment inflicted upon them, 
and again, influenced either by the English or by the 
Chickasaws, allies of the English, had commenced their 
depredations and ambushed assaults upon the French, 
— attempts which had grown in boldness until fears 
were entertained for the safety of the post. After the 
usual routine of pacificatory measures, — summoning the 
chiefs to him, haranguing them, re-baiting their loyalty 
with presents, all to no effect, — Bienville saw himself 
forced to an attitude more intelligible or more imposing 
to the savage mind. In October, 1723, he landed 


suddenly at the Natchez with a small army of seven 
hundred men, — regulars, volunteers, and Indians (Tu- 
nicas, Choctavvs, and Yazous). To give the rebellious 
villagers no time to rally or fortify, he began his march 
against them the morning after arrival. Slung Serpent, 
always on his old terms with the French, and more 
than ever a diplomatist, hurried to Fort Rosalie, where 
the commandant slept, and commenced his negotia- 
tions before the latter had time to join the march. 
He came, he said, to beg pardon for his nation, con- 
fessing that the people of the White Apple, Tenzenaque, 
and Gray Village were in a state of insurrection, which 
he himself had not been able to overcome. All that 
he apparently obtained from Bienville was that venge- 
ance should strike only the three guilty villages, and 
that the Great Village and the Corn Village should be 
spared. It was on All Saints' Day that the army, with 
all precautions for their surprise, filed through the nar- 
row paths of the forest surrounding the doomed White 
Apple Village. They came to a mud cabin, before 
which were three squaws pounding corn. The women 
ran in and closed the door after them. Two or three 
warriors inside made a defence, but they were expedi- 
tiously killed and scalped, and the women made prisoners. 
With the exception of one or two individual exploits 
of Canadians and Indian scouts, this was the only 
warlike achievement of the French in the campaign. 
The White Apple Village was found evacuated, de- 
serted, — nothing but empty cabins. It was burned. 
The army returned to St. Catherine's Concession, 
whence they had set out in the morning. A few 
days later, the commandant led his army against the 


Gray Village, with the same result. Not an Indian 
was to be seen. The abandoned village and temple 
were burned. From a captured squaw it was learned 
that the Indians were awaiting the French at the Ten- 
zenaque village, a half league away. *' On this," re- 
lates, with gusto, Dumont,^ the historian of the oc- 
casion, " the army wheeled about, and the Tunica chief 
took the lead, marching right on the enemy. Some 
time after, a strong cabin was discovered, built on a 
height; here it was believed the Indians were to be 
found. The drums beat at once, the fifes struck up, 
and the army, forming into a square battalion, ad- 
vanced on the cabin. The Tunica chief, who was at 
the head, first reached the height. He approached 
the cabin, examined it, and found it empty. The 
Indians had abandoned it so precipitately that they 
had left behind some guns, balls, and horns of powder. 
The Tunica chief, taking a turn around the height, 
perceived below him one of the enemy's chiefs called 
the * Little Sun,' or rather, they both at the same 
time saw each other, aimed, and fired. The Tunica 
chief stretched his enemy dead on the spot, but fell 
himself dangerously wounded." 

The army again returned to St. Catherine's, and Bien- 
ville summoned Stung Serpent to him. The chief pre- 
sented himself. It was not Bienville's hour of triumph, 
as on the little island of the M^'ssissippi, and one 
wishes for a glimpse into the Serpent's heart during 
the interview which resulted in the elaborate peace 
and pardon accorded the absent rebels. The terms 
were not onerous, — the head of Old Hair, the chief of 
1 Dumont's History of Louisiana; French's Hist. Coll. 


the White Apple Village, and of a free negro who had 
deserted from the French to the Indians. The Serpent 
requested three days, at the end of which he brought 
the bloody ransom ; and the second war of the Natchez 
as it was called wnc /^„«r * 

as it was called, was over. 




DuvERGiER was arrcsted on arrival in France for 
leaving the colony without permission of the Company. 
In disculpating himself, he no doubt seized the desired 
opportunity to incriminate others and make good his 
promises of vengeance to his enemies. Hubert had 
exposed himself to no such disgrace, but his advent 
in his native country was nevertheless not unmarred 
with humiliating experiences. He wrote to the minis- 
ter, Paris, April 11, 1723, that he had been obliged to 
keep his chamber on account of a writ of arrest against 
him for a letter of change he had not been able to 
acquit. He sent his memoir on Louisiana by his wife. 
Different from Cadillac's celebrated paper, it gave full 
credit to Providence for his excellent creation of a 
country, for the spoiling of which Bienville alone stood 
responsible. For two years he, the writer, had suffered 
the greatest humiliations and risk of life for himself and 
fomily from the tyrannous dealings of the commandant. 
Colonists had been put in irons for exposing themselves 
to make the complaints that he was doing, etc. A 
marginal note here on the document, " Keep in the 
Secretariat, without showing in the office," evidently 
tabled Hubert and the rest of his arraignment. An 
affidavit of a few months later travelled farther. It 


was drawn up in somewhat imposing form, dated New 
Orleans, August 28, 1723, signed by Ragnet, a sub- 
commissioner, countersigned by Father Raphael de 
Luxembourg, Superior of the Capuchins and Curate of 
New Orleans, with a notarial certificate of its copy from 
the original, dated 17th September, 1723, Its contents 
were as follows : — 

" The Sieur Ragnet, wishing to discharge his con- 
science, and obeying Holy Church, our Mother, . . . de- 
clares before the curate of this city of New Orleans that 
he had full knowledge of the facts, circumstances, etc, 
contained in said memoir [whether Hubert's is not stated]. 
. . . The Sieur Ragnet contents himself with declaring, 
for the present, . . . that he has knowledge of these facts, 
and that, in case of need, and when so required, he will 
make a detailed and circumstantial deposition as much 
as he can, and that even it would be appropriate, in order 
to know the truth about everything, to make a judicial 
investigation, in which all the old inhabitants who have 
been vexed and ill-treated, who have knowledge of what 
has taken place, should be summoned to depose what they 
would not dare otherwise, and that it all should be done 
secretly before the commissioners named by the king for 
the purpose. . . . Also, one portion of the facts upon 
which the Sieur de Ragnet could throw light . . . about 
the dissipation that had been made in the revenues and 
goods of the king at the time M. de Bienville was both 
commissary and commandant, which will be more clearly 
known when he, the affirmer, shall have finished the work 
which the Council if the Marine, as well as the gentlemen 
of the Treasury, have engaged him to do, — to examine and 
report on all the old accounts of the Marine from the com- 
mencement of the colony to the time of its transference 
to New Orleans." 


This was not to be side-tracked in the secretariat, or 
ignored by the board of commissioners in France. The 
response was prompt. On the i6th of February, 1724, 
a letter was directed from the king, directing M. de 
Bienville to return to France, leaving the command 
of the colony to M. de la Tour until the arrival of 
M. de Boisbrillant from the Illinois. The news of the 
death of De la Tour having meanwhile reached France, 
another letter was written to Bienville, ist April, 1724, 
directing him to remit command of the colony to Cha- 
teauguay pending the arrival of Boisbrillant, after which 
Chateauguay could avail himself of the permission given 
him by the Company to return to France. Should 
Chateauguay himself be in the Illinois, Bienville was 
to remain in command and not embark before the 
arrival of Boisbrillant. 

With nothing but the bare compilation of official 
records before one, it is impossible to form other than 
vague conjectures as to the effect at the time of these 
orders upon Bienville, his friends, and the colony. The 
affairs of the latter since its foundation had never been 
in so equable and promising a condition, the colony 
itself never so vital with life and strength, not from 
distant French interfusion, but from the inherent vitality 
and strength, which men, like trees, grow from the soil 
in which they are planted. Iberville's grasp of conti- 
nent had become a country ; Bienville's establishment 
on the Mississippi, its city, its brain and nerve centre. 
The shadowy hopes of twenty-five years ago were be- 
coming realities; the poignant vicissitudes, a parent's 
memory, from which the children's future dawned, a 
fair and promising morning. 


Bienville, while his letters of recall were journeying 
to him, with the Superior Council, was holding regulai* 
sittings in New Orleans, purveying to the ever-increasing 
legislative needs of the growing community under their 
charge, recognized that the time had come to extend 
the aegis of the law over the accumulating population 
of negroes who had been, and were being, brought into 
the colony, with all the crude barbarity of their native 
wilds upon them, by the competing cupidity of alien 
companies. A legal mode was required for freeing 
those whom gratitude or affection thus commended (a 
by no means inconsiderable number, as statistics of 
the time show), and for defining and protecting the 
human rights which a state of slavery still allowed 
the others. The code of regulations, celebrated under 
the name of the Black Code,^ compiled by the jur- 
ists of Louis XIV. for the island of St. Domingo, was 
adopted, and, with a few curtailments and alterations, 
promulgated in Louisiana in March, 1724. It was the 
last public ordinance to which Bienville attached his 
name before returning to France. 

On the receipt of the letters, according to Dumont, 

* " Black Code" means code for the blacks. The adverbial 
substitute is sometimes mistaken for an adjective, to the detriment 
of the code itself, its compilers, and even its promulgator, Bien- 
ville. Voltaire mentions it, with great satisfaction, as a "juris- 
prudence nouvelle etablie en faveur d<;s n^gres de nos colonies 
qui n'avaient pas encore joui des droits de I'humanit^." A 
reading of its ordinances, and a comparison of them with 
other slave regulations, and indeed with the ordinances against 
Koman Catholics in the older and better-settled English colo- 
nies, would perhaps rectify the grammatical misconception al' 
luded to. 



the only recounter of it, Bienville immediately made 
his preparations for departure on the ship which had 
brought his letters of recall, took leave of his friends, 
went to Mobile, and thence to Dauphin Island, to await 
the " Bellona," which was to convey him and Cha- 
teauguay to France. The ship appeared in :he road- 
stead before the once busy harbour ; but an accident, 
the upsetting of her barge on its way to land, prevented 
embarkation, which, as it was Holy Saturday, was post- 
poned until Easter Monday. At dawn of that day 
boats were sent ashore for Bienville, Chateauguay, and 
their luggage. Hardly had they reached land when 
signals for help were heard from the " Bellona," — two 
cannons fired in quick succession, followed, after an 
interval, by two others. The weather was delightful, 
not a wave, not a breath of wind : in the eyes of all, 
the ship slowly sank under the water, the crew and 
passengers jumping overboard with whatever they could 
seize for buoys. The planks had started in her keel. 

Bienville returned to New Orleans, and waited some 
months for another vessel, taking no part, however, in 
the government of Boisbrillant. 

Arrived in France, he presented his justification to 
the minister, — the memoir of the services that had 
filled his life since, a mere stripling, he had followed his 
brother Iberville in quest of the country, for the real 
government of which he W4S now, a middle-aged man, 
called to account. 

The services form all there is of the history of Louisi- 
ana up to this date. Somewhat may be gathered of 
the history of Bienville from a few extracts. The paper 
begins: "It is thirty-four years since the Sieur de 


Bienville has the honour of serving the king, twenty- 
seven of which as lieutenant of the king and com- 
mandant of the colony." 
After the risumd of his policy with the Indians, — 

"It is not without trouble that I arrived at being ab- 
solute master of so many nations of such barbarous tem- 
pers and such different characters, almost each one of 
which has a particular language. One can conjecture 
how many difficulties I encountered and what risks 1 ran 
to lay the foundations of the colony and maintain it to 
the present time. Necessity, it is said, renders us indus- 
trious ; but I experienced that it also renders us intrepid 
in danger, and makes us perform, so to speak, the im- 
possible, in the different conjunctures in which one finds 
one's self confined in an unknown world with such a small 
force. I first applied myself to putting myself in a po- 
sition to govern by myself without the aid of an inter- 
preter. I applied myself to the language which appeared 
to me to be the dominant one among the savages, and 
of which the knowledge would facilitate me in learning 
the others in the end. I was fortunate enough, from 
the first years, to gain their confidence and their friend- 
ship. I studied, to know well their customs, so as to 
be able to retain them in peace with one another; so 
that, for the twenty-seven years during which I had the 
honour of commanding in the province, I was the arbiter 
of their differences. I always governed these nations, 
bom in independence, so to speak, despotically, and I 
pushed my authority to the deposing of chiefs." 

He terminates : — 

"The Sieur de Bienville dares say that the establish- 
ment of the colony is due to the constancy with which 
he has attached himself to it for twenty-seven years, with- 


out going out of it since he made the discovery of it with 
his brother Iberville. This attachment made him dis- 
continue his services in the Marine, where his family was 
so well known. . . ." 

In New Orleans, the Superior Council, through the 
attorney-general, summoned the Sieur Ragnet to sus- 
tain the deposition signed with his name and given 
to the curate Raphael. 

" The Sieur Ragnet," says the requisition * of the attor- 
ney-general, " did not appear, in consequence of which 
M. de la Chaise condemned him to pay a fine of ten 
livres, according to the ordinance, and resummoned him. 
He neither appeared in answer to this second summons, 
simply making answer to the clerk that he 'did not re- 
member anything any longer,' in language and with a 
levity improper and unsuitable to justice, showing every- 
where a contempt of and disobedience to the colony 
which should be repressed. As in these revelations the 
Sieur Ragnet had advanced general accusations so grave 
against all those who had been at the head of the colony, 
he should either prove them, and not affect silence and 
default of memory, which was his excuse, or pass for a 
calumniator, who, contrary to the respect due his supe- 
riors, falsely accuses them of the most horrible malver- 
sation, with the sole object of blackening them, and insinu- 
ating the most disadvantageous opinion concerning them. 
It was the council's duty on his [the attorney-general's] 
requisition, to condemn the Sieur Ragnet to such repara- 

1 " A messieurs du Conseil Sup^rieur de la province de la 
Louisiana . . . arret^s en la chambre du conseil le 28 aoflt, 
1725," signed De la Chaise, Perrault, Fazende, Perry. The 
instructions to the Superior Council in regard to the inves- 
tigation are not in the compilations of official documents either 
of Margry or Magne. .... 


tion, punishment, fine or prison, as they should judge 
proper. ... As the Sieur Ragnet only excepts M. de 
la Tour from the most unworthy conduct, and as it fol- 
lows, he attacks the honour, probity, fidelity, and justice of 
Messrs. de Bienville, Boisbriant, Chateauguay, Hubert [?], 
... in other words, all those who have ever acted for 
the Company, it is necessary that he give the explanation 
of the transactions [enumerated]; ... in short, prove all 
that he advanced in his deposition, or be regarded as a 
perturber of public repose and punished as such. . . . 
The council was requested to revoke the Sieur Ragnet's 
commission as substitute to the attorney-general, and 
to ordain that he should be judged and punished as 
the ordinances prescribed for calumniators, according to 
the quality of the persons he has tried to blacken, and the 
gravity of the crimes imputed to them." 

The Sieur Ragnet's commission was revoked, as 
prayed for by the attorney-general. 

The year following, rumours being rife in the colony 
that the Indians were rejoicing over the recall of their 
old commandant, and that his reappearance there would 
be the signal for the breaking forth of hostilities from 
them, De Noyau, Bienville's nephew, made a request 
to the Superior Council that the Natchez, Houmas, 
Tunicas, and other tribes might give voice to their 
sentiments and refute so grievous a calumny against 
his uncle. The Superior Council acceding, these na- 
tions made their declarations intelligible through their 
interpreters, that Ihey all regretted Bienville. 

Bienville, nevertheless, was destituted, and in his 
ruin involved his family. Chateauguay was relieved of 
his rank ; the two De Noyaus were broken and sent 
to France. Perier was named governor. Acting, ac- 


cording to his instructions, in unison with De la Chaise, 
who was invested as president of the council, com- 
missioner, and secret investigator of the Company, with 
wellnigh unrestricted power, the disgrace of Bienville 
was made to involve, within a year, the disgrace of 
nearly every acting member of the Government. Who- 
ever opposed the authority of De la Chaise and the 
council was dismissed from office, and generally sent 
out of the country. Boisbriant was recalled to France 
to give an account of his conduct. Pauger, Perry, 
Perrault, as members of the council, were censured; 
the two latter were sent to France. Fazende, another 
member of the council, was allowed to remain in the 
colony. The attorney-general resigned ; his office, for 
the time being, was suppressed. In short, for the first 
time since its colonization, Louisiana was to own in its 
government neither member nor affiliator of the family 
of its founders. According to modern political parlance, 
a new slate, and a French one, was to be adopted and 



After his memoir to the minister, Bienville's name 
drops out of oflficial mention, and his life in Paris is 
a blank which the imagination alone can fill. In the 
colony, Perier and De la Chaise carried on the gov- 
ernment intrusted to them in the manner required : 
a government of thrifty despotism for absentee owners. 
They complain of the want of discipline in the troops 
and of their fondness for living (t la sauvage, and of 
the general lack of religion and morality, which seems 
to have grieved all French officials in Louisiana ; but 
their charge appears to have become very much tamed 
under their hands. The old Canadian spirit of owner- 
ship of the country, the bluster, the brag, the indiffer* 
ence to laws, the impudence to governors sent from 
France, the smuggling, the coureurs de bois adven- 
tures and frolics, the projects for despoiling the Span- 
iard and outwitting the Englishman, — there is no trace 
of these in the reports of the new administration. The 
prosperity of the colony under this spirit, that is, the 
agricultural development of it by patient labour, was, 
according to circumstantial evidence, fairly, normally 
progressive ; the security of it was entirely fanciful. 

The massacre of the entire white male population 
at Natchez in the later part of 1729 was not more 


of a surprise to the victims than the news of it was 
to the Government at New Orleans. Surprise must 
have been the least of the sentiments experienced by 
the directors of the Company in France on reading 
Perier's despatch containing the account of it. Sys- 
tematic injustice and daily petty tyrannies on the part 
of the French had consolidated the whole Natchez na- 
tion in enmity against them. A culminating outrage — 
usurpation of their territory by the officer in command, 
Chepart — had been the signal of revolt ; the gross 
carelessness and blind self-confidence of the same offi- 
cer had not only made the catastrophe possible, but a 
bloody success ; and the news of a confederacy of 
Indians, a grand plot of general massacre, came to 
swell the horror of what had happened by the fear 
of it as imminent. The colony trembled from limit 
to limit. New Orleans was given over to a panic, dur- 
ing which a peaceful remnant of Chouachas, living 
above the city on the bank of the river, was massacred, 
and the promptitude of action that could alone re-es- 
tablish the French in the eyes of their savage friends 
and allies was irreparably delayed. 

The Choctaws were the first in the field. Seven 
hundred of them, under the Canadian, Le Sueur, fell 
upon the Natchez while they were still in the midst 
of their feasting and rejoicing, killing sixty of their 
warriors, and rescuing fifty-nine women and children 
and one hundred slaves who had been taken prisoners. 
It was February before the troops from New Orleans, 
seven hundred men under Soubois, amved. The 
Natchez, in the mean time, had securely fortified 
themselves at the White Apple Village in two strong 


houses, Fort Flour and well-named by the French Foit 
Valon. Tiieir defence was splendid. The French 
opened siege with all the science of Continental war- 
fare, — sappers, miners, cannon ; but, from the first, 
they were hopelessly overmatched in every soldierly 
qualification by their savage foes. Their elaborate 
explanations of their discomfiture are but a series of 
humiliated apologies. Perier accuses the French sol- 
diers of cowardice, — says they were intimidated. He 
compliments, however, the courage of the colonists, 
particularly of the Creoles. Fifteen negro volunteers, 
he wrote, behaved with inconceivable valour. The 
honours of the campaign, however, all agreed, rested 
with the Choctaws. They, at least, had the merit of 
terminating it. Waiting in vain, after several days* can- 
nonading, for the French to make a promised breach 
in one of the forts, and suffering the spectacle of 
thirty Frenchmen running from their trench before a 
sortie of the Natchez, the Choctaws opened a parley 
with Fort Flour. Alabama Mingo^ one of their most 
famous chiefs, made a speech to the obstinate foes, 
in which he convinced them that although the French 
could not fight them, they and the Choctaws were 
sufficient in numbers, and possessed patience enough, 
to blockade them, and force them into surrendering 
through starvation. The Natchez made their terms : 
they to surrender to the Choctaws the remainder of 
their French women, children, and negro prisoners; 
the French to evacuate their position, and, with tlieir 
guns, retire to the bank of the river, — which was exe- 
cuted on the 26th of February. On the nights of 
the 28th and 29th of February, the Natchez secretly 


made their escape from the forts, ehiding even the 
pursuit of the French. With their allies, the Yazous, 
some of them sought refuge with the Chickasaws. The 
others, crossing the river, made their way forty miles 
westward through forest and swamp, to, no doubt, a 
traditional refuge and resting-place in the legendary 
migiaiion of their people from the East,* — an impos- 
ing mound-surrounded tumulus in the present parish of 
Catahoula, just above the juncture of Little River with 
the Ouachita. It was a vantage-ground for attack upon 
the Tunicas, and ambushing of travellers upon the Mis- 
sissippi, of which the now vindictive warriors availed 
the.aselves, to the bloody cost of the colony. Here 
they remained until tidings reached them (Jan. 3, 
1731) of the great armament of white men and Indians, 
led by Perier, close upon their track. They withdrew 
to a far stronger military position, — to a thirty-foot high 
bluff on the eastern end of a plateau known now as 
Licity Island,'* situated at the southwest extremity of 
a small lake (Lake Lovelace). Here they intrenched 

According to his own statement, it took Perier and 
twenty different scouting-parties nine months to locate 

1 " Mississippi as Province, Territory, and State " (I. F. 
H. Claiborne, Jackson, Miss., 1880), — an invaluable work to 
the student of the history of the "Gulf States," from which 
these details are taken almost verbally. 

2 Claiborne, in locating "the last stand of the Natchez," 
quotes from papers by D. W. Tallafiero, Esq., and Dr. Kil- 
patrick, of Catahoola parish, and T. O. S. Doniphan, of Natchez, 
whose careful personal investigations of the subject fix the 
correctness of Claiborne's position, and the incorrectness of 


his enemies ; to arrive, with his thousand men, through 
the, to them, intricate country, up the bluff, and plant 
his mortars in front of their earthworks, was the most 
heroic part of his campaign. 

The Natchez, as before, held their own, and de- 
fended themselves gallantly four days, until they brought 
about a parley, for which, after a two days' rain " by 
bucketfuls," the French could not conceal their eager- 
ness. Perier refused to treat with any but the chiefs. 
Two Suns and the great warrior who had defended 
the Flour Fort presented themselves. Perier demanded 
the surrender of the negro prisoners still in their pos- 
session. This was acceded to. He then offered to 
spare the lives of all the Natchez, men, women, and 
children, who delivered themselves up to him the next 
day. The ambassadors then, in a manner that Perier 
does not explain, became prisoners. He complains 
that the great warrior of the Flour Fort made his es- 
cape from the tent where he was guarded by twelve 
of his most alert men, white and Indians. The next 
day, four hundred and fifty women and children, and 
forty-five men, left the Natchez fortifications, and ranged 
themselves inside those of the French ; but they came 
in such small groups that the whole day was consumed 
in the transaction. Seventy still remained in their fort, 
asking a delay until the morrow. It was raining still 
in torrents. Between the water under foot and water 
overhead, not being able to take them, Perier says he 
was forced to consent. At nine o'clock at night the 
weather cleared. The Natchez forts were then found 
deserted. Again the great fighting bulk of the nation, 
under the leadership of the redoubtable warrior of the 


Flour Fort, had given the slip to their captors. The 
stronghold was destroyed the next day, and two pris- 
oners taken were scalped and burned. Perier returned 
to New Orleans with his trophies of women and chil- 
dren, the two Suns, and forty men, all of whom he 
sold into slavery in St. Domingo. 

Upon receipt of the intelligence of the Natchez 
disaster, with the great loss of property involved, and 
foreseeing a war, in addition to their other overwhelm- 
ing expenses in'the colony, the Company of the Indies 
obtained the retrocession of their charter to the king, 
Jan. 23, 1 73 1. 

The Ministry of Marine in taking possession of their 
old burden may have followed individual convictions, or 
they may have sought perhaps in their memory for the 
conditions which in the past had made it most tolerable. 
Their memory may have been aided by personal solici- 
tation of the old Canadian clique, assembled, thanks 
to the Superior Council of Louisiana, in the effective 
ministerial centre of Paris ; a visit of Diron d'Arta- 
guette to France about the time may have furnished the 
decisive counsel which resulted in the re-establishment 
of Bienville to his former position and the practical 
refutation of his accusers, and the rehabilitation of him- 
self and policy by the royal government. The archives 
preserve some reclamations which had been made from 
time to time, — a memoir byaM. Dodun, 1726. "If it 
is desired to save the country, which is in the greatest 
danger, it is indispensably necessary to send back the 
Sieurs de Bienville and Chateauguay ; " it stated that the 
Sieur de Bienville had been displaced by a cabal, in spite 
of M. Dodun, who could not get them, being so abject, 


to say what they had reproached him with. Knowing 
Bienville's long services and merit, M. Dodun had given 
his testimony of them before M. le Due (?), who had 
sent it to M. de Maurepas. M. Dodun had also made 
a report to the king. 

Out of the fulness of an ecclesiastical wrangle, 1728, 
radiate a few beams of local light upon the subject. 
When Louisiana in 1722 was divided into three spiritual 
districts, the Bishop of Quebec assigned them, — Mobile 
to the Carmelites, New Orieans to the Capuchins, and 
the Illinois to the Jesuits. The Jesuits, however, had 
obtained a residence in New Orleans upon the promise 
to exercise no spiritual function without consent of the 
Capuchins. Far from keeping this promise, according 
to the Capuchins, the Rev. Father Beaubois, S. J., 
arrived from France with a number of missionaries, and 
commenced a systematic infringement of it, had him- 
self made director of the Convent of the Ursulines, and 
otherwise so alarmed the Capuchins by his arrogation of 
dominion that they prayed the council for an ordinance 
against him and the Bishop of Canada for his recall. 
Among other charges, they specify " that Father Beau- 
bois affected a close intimacy with every one in the 
colony with whom the Company had reason to be dis- 
satisfied. ... It was at his house they assembled, 
voluntarily hearing mass only in his chapel, which they 
qualified as the chapel of honest folk. The Jesuit, little 
restrained in his talk, would launch even in public 
against those who were not of his party, and would par- 
ticipate in raillery not very decent against the Capuchins 
and their Superior." 

The Jesuit answers the charges seriatim^ ranging the 


complaints made against him under four he, Is ; to the 
second of which, that he was an unquiet, quarrelsome man, 
he makes answer " That it had been written to France 
that he was devoted to Bienville, and was rousing the col- 
ony to have him recalled. He acknowledged that he was 
very much attached to M. de Bienville, and that he had 
even wished his return to the colony as long as he 
believed the return possible. . . . Some persons in the 
colony had never been able to pardon him that he had 
been such a friend of M. de Bienville, this officer having 
become the object of such implacable hatred that it had 
become extended even to his relations and friends." 
There was pique because Father Beaubois had bought 
one of his plantations. In November, 1731, M. de 
Beauchamp, commandant at Mobile, giving the disgust- 
ing facts of the condition of the colony, — the harassing 
guerilla warfare of the Natchez up and down the river ; 
the threatening attitude of the Chickasaws ; the Alabamas 
on the point of declaring war against the Choctaws ; the 
insurrection of the negroes ; Perier's barbarous punish- 
ment of them, and his cruel reprisals against the savages, 
— concludes with the sensible criticism on the governor's 
past course, — 

" One fault of policy, which I and all the old settlers find 
in M. Perier, is that he has given a perfect knowledge to 
the Choctaws of the forces of the colony, by obliging 
them to come to New Orleans for their presents ; so that 
to-day there are three times as many chiefs in New Orleans 
than when M. de Bienville went away, and consequently 
three times as many presents to make. In addition, these 
savages, who, being woodsmen, had never dared risk them- 
selves on the water, have become boatmen, and so qualified 
to make war upon us in any part of the colony. That is 


the reason for which M. de Bienville never suffered the 
Choctaws to come for their presents either at Biloxi, or 
New Orleans, to keep from them all knowledge of his 
troops and supplies, always remitting the presents to 
Mobile, which is nearer to them. The evil is now beyond 
remedy, unless M. de Bienville could return." 

Stopping at Cape Francois on his way to Louisiana, 
January, 1733, Bienville had an interview with the en- 
slaved Natchez chiefs. They assured him, he wrote 
to the minister, that their tribe only was implicated in 
the revolt, and that they had been driven to it by hard 
treatment, without having taken counsel of the other 
tribes.* Perier, 6th March, 1733, announces his succes- 
sor's arrival to the minister, and gives the account of it 
which is historical only in the serious acceptance of it 
by some authorities in judging Bienville's character.* 
He says in substance : As soon as Bienville had set 
foot on land he remitted the government to him, although 
the day before, Bienville had paid him the *' most insulting 
compliment in the world," by the Sieur de Macarty, aide- 
major of New Orleans, for which he, Perier, demanded 
justice. Macarty came to him drunk, and told him if he 
did not dislodge at once, according to the order given 
by Bienville, he would have all his furniture thrown into 
the street. The next day Perier, who attributed the 
indignity and the low conduct to the state of the mes- 
senger, heard it excused by Bienville. Perier remarked 
to the latter that such manners were not very proper 
towards a gallant man, no matter if he were not in office, 

1 Margry, Introduction to sixth volume, — and all those who 
have followed his opinions without seeking their base. 
* Margry's compilation. 


and that it was a pity he was so lacking to himself in 
being lacking to him (Perier), — adding that it was not 
very just gratitude for the very different conduct shown 
by Perier on his arrival, when he had taken Bienville and 
family under his protection, although they were held in 
such horror, and p.t the head of the troops had forbidden 
evil speaking of him, under penalty of punishment. 

One can but remember here the apparent entire des- 
titution of Bienville and his family at the period cited. 
The account proceeds : — 

" Bienville, no doubt repenting of this proceeding, sent 
and asked the orders of Perier, when he was admitted to 
the council; but Perier declared to Salmon that he would 
have nothing to do with such a man. When Bienville ar- 
rived, he had gone to meet him on the bank of the river, 
having all the honours rendered him which accompany 
this kind of reception, — that is, firing of cannon, and 
troops under arms. The cabal of the Sieur de Bienville, 
who had laboured to make him, Perier, pass for a violent 
man, and not master of his movements, would be very glad 
if they could tell Perier what they had seen and heard their 
chief do. Bienville, in spite of the order of the king, which 
he disregards in a manner to convince one of his im- 
pertinence and ignorance, refused to be received at the 
head of the iroops, saying that it was sufficient to be re- 
ceived in the council." 

Bienville took up his residence again in his old hotel 
thus summarily vacated. It was situated in the space 
now bounded by Chartres, Decatur, Bienville, and Custom- 
House Streets. The Ursuline nuns occupied it tempora- 
rily on their arrival in 1728, while they were awaiting 
the construction of their convent ; and one of them, the 


young and vivacious Madeline Hachard, describes it in 
one of her letters to her father as *' The finest house in 
the town. It is a two-story building, with an attic, . . . 
with six doors in the first story for egress and ingress. 
In all the stories there are large windows, but with no 
glass. The frames are closed with very thin linen, ad- 
mitting of as much light as glass." The same facile pen 
gives also a sketch of Bienville's city, — a pleasanter one 
than those usually quoted : — 

" Our town is very handsome, well constructed, and regu- 
larly built, as much as I could judge on the day of our 
arrival; for ever since that day we have remained cloistered 
in our dwelling. . . . The streets are large and straight; 
. . . the houses are well built, with upright joists, filled with 
mortar between the interstices, and the exterior white- 
washed with slack lime. In the interior they are wains- 
coted. . . . The colonists are very proud of their capital. 
Suffice *t to say that there is a song currently sung here 
which fciaphatically declares that New Orleans is as beau- 
tiful as Paris. Beyond that it is impossible to go. . . . 
The women here are extremely ignorant as to the means of 
securing their salvation, but they are very expert in the art 
of displaying their beauty. There is so much luxury in 
this town that there is no distinction among the classes so 
far as dress goes. The magnificence of display is equal 
in all. Most of them reduce themselves and their family 
to the hard lot of living at home on nothing but sagamity, 
and flaunt abroad in robes of velvet and damask^ orna- 
mented with the most costly ribbons. The women here 
paint and rouge to hide the ravages of time, and wear on 
their faces, as embellishment, small black patches." 

While the ex-governor was making his doleances to 
the minister, the governor, according to his and Salmon's 



correspondence of the spring and summer (1733), was 
putting his hand to his work. He could arrive at no 
accurate estimate of the strength of the Natchez, but 
through his Indian allies he established the fact of three 
divisions o'" them, — one in the interior of their territory, 
an impracticable country above their old villages; 
another, and a larger one, in the neighbourhood of the 
Ouachitas, on the Yazoo River; the third and largest 
body near the Chickasaws, who had given them land for 
a new village. In case the Chickasaws could not be 
brought to terms, and their guests, the Natchez, extermi- 
nated, as now French security and prestige demanded, 
he passed in review his more distant and powerful 
Indian allies, whose dispositions he had been able to 
sound. The Illinois were uncertain, as were also the 
Wabash, Arkansas, and Osages. The Natchitoches had 
recently made an attempt to revolt against the French. 
The Choctaws, the main reliance in a war against the 
Chickasaws, offered no guarantee of loyalty, except the 
occasional killing and plundering of English traders ; 
and under the recent short-sighted administration, as 
De Beauchamp had written, abuses had crept in which 
made the nations more difficult than ever to manipulate. 
The chiefs had multiplied themselves to one hundred 
and eleven, each one of which had separately to be 
treated with and ballasted with presents ; all were arro- 
gant and insolent, and most of them in treaty with the 
English of Carolina. In short, while small parties of 
Choctaws could be kept on the war-path, nothing could 
be hoped from them as a nation without the prelimi- 
nary long, tiresome processes of Indian negotiations, — 
processes which, in fact, did consume the entire year of 


1731. As for the soldiers, without barracks, bedding, 
and clothing, no steps could be taken towards tiie dis- 
ciplining of them for service until the government's 
neglect of them had been repaired. 

In the ecclesiastical matters of the parish, which was 
still in a flourishing state of discord, the governor was 
barely installed before the Capuchin Superior, the curate 
of the city, Father Raphael de Luxembourg, came 
(perhaps as a test) to consult him and Salmon about the 
order received from the Bishop of Qv.ebec to interdict 
the Jesuits in New Orleans and its neighbourhood. Bien- 
ville writes to the minister that he and Salmon, not 
wishing to enter into the v uter, had answered that the 
curate should know better than they what to do, but 
that it was a delicate step for religion. Making some 
defence for the order of his friend Beaubois, he added 
that the Jesuits had gained general esteem by their good 
conduct, and were doing much in the service of religion ; 
that the Capuchins could not administer to the whole 
parish, which was extensive, comprising also the hospital 
and nunnery. Besides, the nuns did not wish to submit 
to the order of the Bishop of Canada and receive a 
Capuchin for director. This condemnation was not 
meant to touch Father Raphael, a respectable man by 
his learning and morals, but Father Hyacinth, " whose 
conduct was so licentious that he was despised even by 
the libertines." Bienville had learned, however, that 
Father Raphael had forbidden the nuns to have any 
communication with the Jesuits, who in two days were 
to be laid under general interdict. Beaubois seemed to 
be the sole object of the hatred felt by the Bishop of 
Canada against the whole society ; nevertheless, every 


one agreed that he gave no cause for it, — Salmon in par- 
ticular^ since the Jesuits* return, had not remarked any- 
thing reprehensible in their morals, which were regular 
and edifying. 

The following autumn the governor related a chafing 
of the spiritual and civil authorities. This time one of 
the captains of the garrison determined to marry a young 
girl, and not being able to obtain the permission of 
Perier or Bienville, the couple had gone to Pensacola, 
where, for money, the Spanish Franciscan had married 
them. The officer being ordered up to the Illinois, and 
the rumour getting abroad that he intended taking his 
wife with him, the New Orleans priests presented a 
requisition to Bienville to prevent the lady from going 
with her husband, or to oblige the officer to remove the 
opposition to his marriage. The officer and the Superior 
of the Capuchins were summoned before the council, 
and the latter was requested to make known the founda- 
tion of his opposition to the marriage, which, after 
hearing, the council pronounced of no effect. But as 
the Capuchin proclaimed anew that the marriage was 
sacrilegious, clandestine, and not according to law, for- 
bidding the parties to live together under pain of major 
excommunication, enjoining penances, fasts, etc., — 
Bienville, not to leave the position of the lady uncer- 
tain, had closed his eyes to her departure to the Illinois 
with the officer. 




As Bienville wrote of himself to the Minister of 
Marine, February 10, 1736, his letters for two years 
seem full of contradictions about the measures necessary 
to finish the Natchez war and frustrate the English in- 
trigues with the Choctaws. His own intrigues with the 
Chickasaws met with as careful frustration by the Eng- 
lish. After two years' negotiations, conducted with all 
the skill and judgment with which nature and experience 
had furnished him, the Chickasaws still refused to aban- 
don the refugee Natchez to him for punishment. 

In the correspondence alluded to, there is an evident 
reluctance to come to the armed issue which the failure 
of diplomacy made the more necessary to maintain the 
French supremacy in the eyes of the savages, and his 
careful precautions evince an apprehensive conscious- 
ness in his mind of the merit and strength of his foes. 
There is an apprehensive consciousness also, not only 
of the fighting inferiority of his allies, the Choctaws, but 
of their loyalty. Under his patient and persistent incite- 
ments, they had kept war-parties in the field against the 
Chickasaws, and had committed themselves by isolated 
acts of brigandage against the English ; but the nation 
was divided in sentiment, and all his efforts to solidify 


it in a consistent condition of warfare had met with dis- 
appointment. With superhuman patience he resumed 
over and over again his manipulation of the two tricky 
Choctaw chiefs, Red Shoe and Alabama Mingo, to ar- 
rive at the but partial conviction in his own mind of 
their reliability when the call for support should be made 
upon them. His temporizing policy with the Choctaws 
produced a difference of opinion between him and 
D'Artaguette, who frankly distrusted them ; the differ- 
ence increased to an estrangement, which, as Bienville 
adhered none the less inflexibly to his views, transformed 
the friend into a criticising opponent and unwilling 

Bienville's plan of campaign was one in which, he 
wrote to the minister, he thought he had employed 
every imaginable means for success. It was to pene- 
trate by the Tombigbee into the Chickasaw country, 
where he was to be joined by D'Artaguette (brother of 
Diron), commandant at the Ulinoio, with a force of 
about three hundred good men. The orders were sent 
to D'Artaguette, fixing the place of meeUng, — Ecores^ 
Prudhomme (Jones's Bluff), on the Torn bigbee, four days' 
journey from the Chickasaw villages. The time was 
placed between the loth and 15th of March. 

Bienville during the summer took up his position at 
Mobile, where, in a grand council, he er.posed his plans 
to the Choctaw chiefs, and secured their willing and, as 
he judged, reliable co-operation. Salmon, in New Or- 
leans, undertook to forward the troops and provisions 
to him. But the means of transportation to be furnished 
by the middle of October were not ready by the middle 
of January. Sending a detachment in advance with 


everything necessary to make an establishment and con- 
struct accommodations at the junction of the Mobile and 
Tombigbee as a resting-place for the army, Bienville, 
despite the rigours of the season, crossed the Gulf and 
hastened to New Orleans, where he personally pushed 
forward the belated preparations. He sent a courier to 
D'Artaguette to retard his march until the last of April ; 
and as fast as pirogues and flat-boats were finished, 
drawing what could be spared from the garrisons of 
Natchez, Natchitoches, and Mobile, and raising a com- 
pany of volunteers among the young men and voyageurs 
in the city, and another among the unmarried colonists, 
embarked them for Mobile, he himself returning there 
on the 4th March, leaving De Noyau to bring on the 
four companies still waiting for boats. 

The royal vessel, by which the mortars for the expe- 
dition were expected, did not arrive in Mobile until the 
end of February ; and then it was found that by what 
Bienville calls some deplorable negligence, the cannon 
had not been shipped. The expedition had to go with- 
out them. Contrary winds retarded De Noyau and his 
soldiers until March 2 2d, and in the rough weather one 
of the large boats of provision, lost half her cargo of rice. 
This necessitated another delay for the making of bread 
in Mobile, and bakers were sent up to the establishment 
on the Tombigbee, with orders to turn into biscuit all 
the flour on hand there. Finally, however, every misad- 
venture having been, as far as humanly possible, reme- 
died, the start was made on the ist of April. The 
armament made a grand and notable show on the Mo- 
bile, — five hundred soldiers, without counting the bril- 
liant staff of officers, and forty-five blacks, commanded 


by free negroes, rowing up the river in the early morn- 
ing sun, in thirty pirogues, followed by thirty flat-boats. 

With continued heavy rains and the current against 
them, it took twenty-three days to arrive at the Tom- 
bigbee juncture. Here it was found that the comman- 
dant had been able to construct but one working fur- 
nace, the fat earth of the region not hardening in fire. 
Bienville put his men to work. By mixing sand and 
slime, they managed to construct three others ; but all 
together could only provide a baking for three days in 

The Choctaw chiefs, justifying Bienville's judgment 
of them, began to arrive ; Alabama Mingo among the 
first, Soulier Rouge among the last comers. A day was 
given up to receiving them. Each chief, Bienville says, 
began his harangue with protestations of fidelity, and 
ended with demands for ammunition, vernilion, and 
provisions. The two former were given, but Bienville 
reminded them of his warning to them in Mobile to 
fetch their own provisions. They related that some of 
the warriors had been turned back, after they had set 
out, by a rumour that when the two French armies met, 
the Choctaws were to be destroyed, and peace made 
with the Chickasaws. Bienville immediately sent one 
of his most trusted young Canadians to reassure the 
suspicious warriors and induce them to join the expedi- 
tion. Writing these details at the camp on the Tom- 
bigbee, May 2, 1736, Bienville mentions, — with little 
suspicion of the correctness of his prescience, — 

" Several war-parties, who have brought scalps to me, told 
me of having seen great roads, which make them believe 
that help has been ssnt to the Chickasaws by the English. 


I think rather that it is M . d'Artaguette, who, hurried by 
the savages, has arrived before me» and did not wish to 
return without striking a blow." 

On the I St of May, all the chiefs having arrived, a 
grand consultation was held ; it was agreed that the 
Choctaw forces should meet the French in fourteen days 
at the little creek which separated the Chickasaw and 
Choctaw territories, whence the united army would 
march against the enemy. The chiefs then took their 
departure, and the French re-embarked for the last 
stage of their journey by boat. By the 2 2d of the 
month, all arrived at the landing-place, — some nine 
leagues above the Chickasaw villages. Bienville re- 
marked that the Choctaws had not rallied in as great 
numbers as promised ; all together not numbering over 
six hundred men. A small fortification (Fort Oltibia) 
was thrown up to protect the boats and provisions, and 
a garrison of twenty men, with the boatmen, store- 
keepers, and sick, were left in charge. After a distribu- 
tion of twelve days* provisions and ammunition, the 
army was put in motion on the 24th, marching in Indian 
file, in two columns, through the woods, with the In- 
dians on either flank. The bad weather still pursued 
them ; during the first camp a terrible storm, which re- 
turned several times during the night, threatened ruin 
to both ammunition and provisions. The next day 
there were three deep ravines to pass, filled with water 
waist high, the sides closed with impenetrable cane- 
brakes ; but after this, they came to a most beautiful 
prairie, and camped about two leagues from the Chicka- 
saw villages. 

Neither Choctaws nor French could conceal their 


want of confidence in one another. Soulier Rouge 
wishing to reconnoitre with some of his men, Bienville, 
fearing an evil turn from him, had him accompanied by 
some Canadians. As the party did not return that 
night, and several shots being heard, the report again 
spread among the Choctaws that the whole expedition 
was a stratagem to deliver them up to the Chickasaws. 
Foolish as the report was, the Choctaws were on the 
point of abandoning the French when the reconnoitring 

Tranquillity being restored and the march resumed, 
the great chief of the Choctaws at the first halt asked 
Bienville which village he intended attacking first. 
Bienville told him the Natchez, as they were the authors 
of the war. The great chief then represented that the 
first village, Schiouakafalay, was the nearest of the Chick- 
asaw villages to the Choctaws, and did them most harm, 
and that he would like to attack that first, particularly 
as it was filled with provisions which the Choctaws 
needed, and without which they could not follow the 
French any more. Hardly doubting, Bienville relates, 
but that the Choctaws would return home after taking 
this first village, their habit being to fly after they had 
struck the first blow, he persuaded them to attack the 
Natchez village first, promising to return and take the 
Schioukafalay afterwards. They appeared satisfied, and 
their guides, leading the army through the woods, as if 
to conduct it to the point agreed upon, came to a small 
prairie about a league in extent, in the middle of which 
were three villages placed triangularly on the crest of a 
ridge, at the foot of which flowed a brook almost dry. 
This little prairie was only a league distant from the 


Urge prairie where were most of the Chickasaw villages. 
A small forest separated them. The Choctaws main- 
taining that no water could be found farther on, Bien- 
ville defiled his army the length of the woods that 
skirted the prairie and gained a little eminence, where a 
halt was made for dinner. It was a little past midday, 
and the men as they marched stooped to pluck the wild 
strawberries that covered the earth, thick and luscious 
under their feet. 

The Choctaws, who had gained their point by a ruse, 
hastened to complete the trick by precipitating an action. 
While the array was defiling through the woods, a party 
of three, with war-cries and yells, began shooting and 
skirmishing around the first village, and succeeded in 
drawing its defensive fires upon the French. The French 
officers then joined their demands to the Choctaws that 
this first village, which they did not think was good for 
much resistance, should be at once taken. Pressed on 
all sides, Bienville explains, not to leave these strong- 
holds behind the army, and not being able to refuse 
without rebuffing the Choctaws, he gave his consent to 
the attack, after making the chiefs promise to accom- 
pany him to the Natchez after the taking of the villages, 
— which promise they gave, with many protestations and 
reiterations. A company of grenadiers, a detachment 
of fifteen men from each of the eight French companies, 
sixty Swiss, and forty-five volunteers under De Noyau, 
were commanded to be in readiness by two o'clock for 
the attack. 

From the height where the French were, four or five 
Englishmen could be discerned, bustling around among 
the excited Chickasaws, and over one village floated the 


English flag. The French battalion moved out of the 
woods, crossed the brook, and began to ascend the 
ndge. A murderous fire poured upon them from thice 
directions. One of the negro bearers, carrying mantelets 
in front, was killed. The rest threw down their burdens 
and fled. The column of grenadiers, first attaining the 
summit and the entrance of the village, met the full 
force of the hidden batteries about them. Two or three 
fortified cabins were taken and burned ; but when it came 
to crossing the open space between them and the next 
cabins, under the same fire, the Chevalier de Noyau, 
looking about him, saw only a few officers, a remnant of 
grenadiers, and about a dozen volunteers. The soldiers, 
hopeless at fighting an enemy whom they could not 
draw out, sought shelter from the range of their loop- 
holes. Crowding behind the captured cabins, they re- 
fused to be driven out by their sergeants. Almost all 
the officers were killed or wounded. The Chevalier de 
Noyau and four officers fell wounded at the same 
moment. In vain De Noyau sent his aide to rally the 
soldiers ; the killing of the aide among them, only added 
to their panic. He finally got a message to Bienville, 
that unless assistance were sent, or retreat sounded, not 
an officer would be left alive. 

Upon this report, and viewing from the point where 
he was the combat, and the conduct of the French and 
Swiss soldiers, and with a sudden alarm in the camp 
that a reinforcement from the Chickasaws of the great 
prairie beyond, were approaching, Bienville sent a com- 
pany of eighty men to protect the retreat and fetch 
off" the wounded, which they did not accomplish with- 
out serious loss. The officers, massed together, were 


found still fighting and holding their own. The Choc- 
taws, who had been keeping themselves under cover 
under the side of the hill, then, says Bienville, raised 
themselves up, and made several discharges of their 
firearms ; but they also lost twenty-two men killed and 
wounded, which discouraged and disgusted them not a 

The night was passed in felling trees, and, with hasty 
fortifications, assuring the camp against surprise. It 
seems hardly doubtful that if the Chickasaws had fol- 
lowed up the prestige of their defence with an assault, 
they would have made a bloody end of the whole French 
army. But the savages, either from their own or the 
English counsels, stood secure, silent, invisible, alert, in 
their strongholds, leaving the French to take what initia- 
tive they chose, after their lesson. As Bienville experi- 
enced cruelly, there was no choice. The great number of 
his wounded ; the scarcity of provisions, he having been 
forced, after all, to feed the Choctaws, to hold them ; the 
fear that the Choctaws might abandon him at any mo- 
ment, — made retreat a necessity, and a quick one an 
urgent necessity. For in addition to other apprehen- 
sions, the falling of the Tombigbee came to threaten the 
cutting off of his water transportation. A retreat by 
land, harassed at every covert by Chickasaws and 
Natchez, would convert the present repulse into an 
irremediable disaster. 

As for resuming an attack upon the Chickasaw villages 
without cannon, he dismissed any such alternative by 
simply sending a plan of the villages to the minister and 
describing the system of fortifications used by these 
savages : — 


" After having surrounded their cabins with several 
rows of great pieux (filled with earth), they hollow out the 
earth inside, until they can let themselves down in it, 
shoulder-deep, and shoot through loopholes almost level 
with the ground ; but they obtain still more advantage from 
the natural situation of their cabins, which are separated 
one from the other, so that their fires cross, than from all 
the arts of fortifying them that the English can suggest. 
The coverings of the cabins are a thatching of wood and 
mud, proof against fire-arrows and grenades ; nothing but 
bombs could damage them." 

Litters were made for the wounded ; and at the hour 
at which they arrived the day before, and in the same 
manner, in two columns, the army withdrew. The tired 
soldiers, having had no rest during the night, loaded 
with their baggage and carrying their wounded, marched 
slowly, — which completed the disgust of the Choctaws. 
Soulier Rouge exerted himself to the utmost to get his 
people to abandon the French then and there ; but the 
Great Chief and Bienville were able to frustrate him. To 
hasten the march, Bienville proposed that they should 
assist in carrying the wounded ; and after many difficul- 
ties, obtained that each village should take charge of one 
man. The Oltibia and the boats were reached in two 
days ; the water was so low that in many places a pas- 
sage had to be cut through the bottom for the boats. 
On the 2d of June all arrived at the Tombigbee. The 
wounded, with the surgeons, were hurried on to Mobile. 
Bienville followed after. From the Tohomes he received 
the first intelligence of the full extent of his disaster, which 
Diron d'Artaguette, mad with grief and resentment over 
the useless sacrifice of his brother, more than confirmed. 


It was indeed a useless, a most deplorable, sacrifice, 
and a misfortune from which Bienville never recovered. 
His surmise about D'Artaguette was only too true. The 
young commandant, as a letter awaiting Bienville in 
Mobile announced, following his first instructions, had 
set out from the Illinois with his force of one hundred 
and forty white men and two hundred and sixty-six 
Indians, — Iroquois, Arkansas, Miamis, and Illinois, — to 
reach the rendezvous early in March, marching slowly, 
that some delayed reinforcements from the Michiganicas 
and Arkansas, under the Sieur de Montcherval, might 
overtake him. Arrived at the Chickasaw Bluffs, his scouts 
could discover no signs or traces of Bienville's army. 
The next day a courier from the Illinois appeared with 
Bienville's letter and change of plan. He immediately 
called a council of war of his officers and the Indian 
chiefs. The latter advised striking a blow immediately, 
as the Indians, not having provisions enough to remain 
long in campaign, would be forced to quit; adding 
that their smuts reported in the large prairie a small 
village of thirty cabins, separated from all the rest, 
which could be easily taken ; they would undoubt- 
edly find it full of provisions, which would enable thePi 
to wait for Bienville under the protect'^n of the forti- 
fications they could throw around the place. Almost 
all the officers seconding this advice, the attack upon 
the village was decided. Their march to the prairie was 
pushed forward with rapidity and, as they supposed, 
without being discovered. Arrived within a quarter of a 
lengue of the great prairie, — it was Palm Sunday, — the 
baggage was left under a guard of thirty men, and the rest 
of the army confidently took the road to the village. It 


was the road to certain death to all but two of them. 
Hardly had the attack upon the village begun, when 
D'Artaguette saw a troop of from four to five hundred 
savages issue from behind a neighboring hill, and bear 
down upon him with such rapidity and force that his 
Indians, the Miamis and Illinois, the greater part of his 
army, took to flight. He turned to gain the road to his 
baggage, to save or at least blow up his powder, fighting 
desperately, step by step, he, his officers, men, and the 
sixty-six Iroquois and Arkansas, — all his Indians who 
stood by him. Nineteen were taken alive, among them 
D'Artaguette, — desperately wounded in three places, — 
two officers, and Father Senac, a Jesuit priest. 

Two days' journey from the prairie, the advancing 
reinforcement, under Montcherval, met the flying debris 
of the baggage guard. With them he turned back to 
the Illinois, sending a courier to acquaint Bienville with 
the catastrophe. The courier, as has been seen, never 
reached him. Provided abundantly with ammunition, 
warned through the papers found on D'Artaguette (read 
to them by the English traders) of Bienville's plans, the 
Chickasaws had abundant time, with their English friends, 
to take their measures of defence; and, as has been 
seen, they took them well. As Bienville said, it was not 
astonishing that he found the preparation that destroyed 
his combinations ; for he had counted upon having to do 
with savages, brave in truth, but incapable of fortifying 
themselves as they had done to the degree that it was 
impossible to fight them without artillery. 

An Avoyelles woman slave who escaped from the 
Chickasaws to the Alabamas some time afterwards, 
related the unfortunate fate of the prisoners. The after- 


noon of the engagement two were put aside, to exchange 
for a Chickasaw warrior in the hands of the French. 
The remaining seventeen were divided into two lots, and 
burned in two huge fires prepared by the Chickasaw 
women. All died heroically, — one Frenchman, so it has 
come down to us, singing his death-song to the last, like 
an Indian brave. 

Bienville effected the exchange of the two survivors. 
Save these, he could not obtain further details of the 
affair, which, as al)Ove, he related to the minister. All 
agreed, he said, that but for the courage of the Iroquois 
and Arkansas, not a Frenchman would have survived the 




There was no interest so important now in the 
colony as restoring the lost prestige of the French, 
and diminishing the effects of the triumph of the 
Chickasaws in the country. Bienville had no sooner 
got back to New Orleans than he commenced his pre- 
parations for another campaign, — preparations based 
on his recent new knowledge of the Chickasaws, and 
on other misconceptions. He wrote to the minister for 
artillery and bombs, to break in the roofs of the forts, 
and for soldiers ; for to fight with those he had, was, 
he said, to compromise the reputation of the nation, 
and force his officers into the necessity of dishonour 
or getting themselves killed. Of the last recruits sent, 
there were not more than one or two over five feet in 
height, — the rest were below four feet ten ; and as for 
their morale, more than half had passed under the 
lash for theft. 

He sent two engineers, Devergd and Brontin, to 
explore the shortest and best routes into the Chicka- 
saw country, — the one by the Mississippi, the other 
by the Mobile, River. He wrote to M. de Beauharnais 
to secure the reinforcement of a company of Cana- 
dians, and, travelling incessantly from the capital to 
Mobile, he prosecuted his work of holding the Choc- 


taw chiefs firm and solid to him ; and despite the 
machinations of the English and the treacheries of 
Soulier Rouge, for the three years during which his 
preparations lasted, he kept war-parties, both of Choc- 
taws and Illinois, in the field, destroying the Chick- 
asaw crops, intercepting their English supplies, and 
harassing them into that state of discouraging disquie- 
tude which, although not a brilliant, was the most ef- 
fective, warfare against the volatile savage nature. His 
despatches to the minister contain, nevertheless, some 
indications of other preoccupations and responsibilities, 
— the changes in the bar at the Balize and the mouth 
of the river, his past experiments to keep a permanent 
passage open, and his suggestion of a vessel which 
could be sunk or lightened by pumps, to be kept 
travelling backwards and forwards, hollowing out a 
furrow with her keel. 

A humble sailor dying (1739) and leaving his sav- 
ings to found a hospital (the present Charity Hospital 
of New Orleans), a building had to be bought, repaired, 
and furnished, and a residue of the money kept for 
future use. There were also to be met the financial 
complications brought about by the different emissions 
of paper, card, and metal currency, with the attendant 
miseries of speculation and usury. There was, as ever, 
high water, overflows, destruction of crops, sickness, 
food-scarcity, discouragement of colonists, discontent 
and desertion of soldiers ; but the machinery of govern- 
ment, in the absorption elsewhere of individual ener- 
gies and efforts, seemed to roll along, for once, by its 
own impetus over the calamities of nature. 

In the spring of 1738 the engineers returned with 


the results of their explorations in reports and maps. 
The Chickasaws, according to them, lay at about equal 
distances from the Mobile and the Mississippi. De- 
vergd's route, by the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, was 
selected by Bienville, on account of a recent peace 
between the Chickasaws and the Choctaws, although, 
as Deverg^ complained to the minister, the correctness 
of both his map and report was doubted. Officers, 
engineers, and a detachment of soldiers were sent up 
the Mississippi to build a fort and depot for provisions 
at the mouth of the St. Francis River, and another (on 
the opposite bank) at the mouth of the Margot (Wolf 
River), which was to be the rendezvous for the forces 
from North, West, and South. Two hundred horses 
were sent from New Orleans, and two hundred ordered 
from Natchitoches to the Illinois for the transportation 
of the provisions, which, in default of Louisiana crops, 
were to be drawn from the abundant fields of the 
West. The rest of 1 738 was passed in making prepa- 
rations for the campaign. In June, 1739, the assist- 
ance demanded from the Home Government was sent 
out, — arms, munitions, provisions, merchandise, with 
a reinforcement of seven hundred soldiers, including 
bombardiers, cannoniers, and miners, under the Sieur 
de Noailles d'Aime. This officer was also instructed to 
take command of all the troops, regular and militia, 
in the colony during the approaching expedition, and 
Bienville was recommended to act in concert with 
him, as with one "who had all the talents and ex- 
perience necessary for the command." 

This, however, was to be one of those commands for 
which there was no computing the necessary talents and 


experience. One of De Noailles d'Aimc's young officers 
kept a journal,* which reveals one of the difficulties of 
this war with the Chickasaws. By the time his troops 
reached New Orleans, thirty, stricken with scurvy, had 
to be put in the hospital on the opposite side of the 
river, and twenty in the City Hospital. In fifteen days 
the number had increased to eighty-four. By July 25, 
sixty having died, and the sick list mounting to one 
hundred and forty, and others falling sick every day, 
the first convoy was hurried out of the city, three com- 
panies, reduced from fifty men to forty-one each. 
Another convoy of one hundred and twenty-eight men 
were started off on the 8th of August. Of these, four 
officers and fifteen privates had to be landed sick at 
Schoupitoulas, a few miles above the city. Four days 
afterwards, one officer and four men died. The rest of 
the battalion, which the journalist accompanied, left the 
city in September, having suffered a loss of seventy men 
dead and seventy-four on the sick list. They reached 
Fort Assumption, as the new establishment was called, 
on October 3, with sixteen men too ill to rise ; eight 
had been buried on the way, and forty-five left behind 
at Natchez. 

Bienville left New Orleans also in September, but 
making a detour to invite the Arkansas to join the ex- 
pedition, did not reach Fort Assumption until the middle 
of November. He carried with him sixteen hundred 
Indians and the rest of the colonial troops. He found 
his reinforcements from the Illinois and Canada waiting 
for him, — the former under De la Buissonnifere, the suc- 
cessor of D'Artaguette ; the latter, a company of Mon- 
^ Claiborne's History of Mississippi. 


treal and Quebec cadets, and tliree hundred Northern 
savages under the Sieur de Longueuil, constituting, with 
his own force, the respectable army, for the time, of twelve 
hundred white men and two thousand four hundred 
savages. The young French officer gives a graphic de- 
scription of the encampment, — the French disciplined 
soldiers, the turbulent Canadians, the negro servants, 
the savages, with their interchanges of feastings, cere- 
monies, harangues ; their war-parties, scalps, and prison- 
ers, whom the missionaries made efforts to save, but 
who nevertheless were burned, with more than usual 
horrible cruelties ; and as time passed, and the great ex- 
pedition promised was not forthcoming, their dissatis- 
faction, discontent, and desertion by large bodies ; with 
Bienville arranging and consulting with his officers, 
pacifying his Canadians, and unweariedly performing all 
the etiquette of ceremony, speech, and calumet required 
by the exigencies of savage alliances. 

Bienville's own account to the minister gives a no 
less graphic, if a less picturesque, view of the situation 
he found himself in at Fort Assumption. 

As he had suspected, and as Deverg^ had been forced 
to acknowledge, the latter had been incorrect in both 
map and report. The distance of the Chickasaw vil- 
lages from the Mississippi was found to be as much 
again as he had computed. A new survey was made 
for a road, which was found, upon Bienville's examina- 
tion, to be impracticable from overflow of small streams 
swollen by rains. De Noyau indicated a route over 
higher lands. Another survey was made, and it was 
found possible to open a road traversable by the artillery 
and wagons ; relays of men were put to work upon it. 


Three months were thus consumed ! In addition, the 
rains, which had rendered the first road impracticable, 
had so filled up the bottoms which the live-stock had to 
cross, in coming ft-om St. Francis to Fort Assumption, 
that in eight days more than half were lost, and the 
rest, eighty beeves and thirty-four horses, arrived in such 
a state of exhaustion that there was no hope of getting 
any service out of them. The only resources, therefore, 
were the hundred and fifty horses and hundred oxen 
bought by Bienville and Salmon at Natchitoches, which 
were to be delivered on the 1st September, but of which 
no news had been heard. At the end of January it was 
learned that the oxen had wandered off and become 
lost seventy miles from Natchez, and that the horses 
that had not perished on the road, had been abandoned 
on the other side of the Arkansas, whose overflow ren- 
dered all approach to it an impossibility. 

Without a road to the Chickasaws, and without 
means of transportation, the French forces on the banks 
of the Mississippi saw themselves threatened with a 
more humiliating fate than befell those assembled on 
the banks of the Tombigbee. The safety, the inacces- 
sibility of these enemies had received at their hands 
only a more brilliant proving than ever. Provisions 
were running low, the Indians were deserting, the French 
battalion was reduced to fourteen men, the grenadiers 
to twenty-eight men to a company. 

Bienville and his officers held a council of war to 
decide how to end, with the least humiliation to the 
French arms, a situation becoming daily more critical 
and untenable. 

The Chickasaws, on their side, had not been unim- 


pressed by the great preparations against them. Despite 
the arms, ammunition, and volunteer aid from the Eng- 
Hsh, and notwithstanding the tried strength of their 
forts, they had, from the first assembUng of the French 
army on the Mississippi, begun to drop in the neighbour- 
hood all the anonymous symbols and calumets current 
among Indians as amenities for peace. A letter had 
even been found from them, offering the return of three 
French prisoners in their possession, with whose good 
treatment they were convinced the French would be 
satisfied. Upon these hints, disdained at the time, the 
French commanders were now glad to act. The North- 
ern Indians, who had been clamouring to be led against 
the enemy, but who had been restrained from policy, 
were given permission to march. On February 6 a 
party of five hundred, needing no made roads, immedi- 
ately took their own paths through the woods to the 
Chickasaw villages. The French council sent with them 
the commandant of the Canadian forces, the Sieur de 
Celoron, and one hundred Canadians. C^loron's mis- 
sion was, briefly, to allow the Indians to accomplish 
what they could against the Chickasaws ; but he was to 
receive any overtures of peace and bring about any 
negotiations which would bring the Chickasaws as sup- 
pliants to the French. He acquitted himself like the 
astute Canadian he was. His Indians flattered them- 
selves they would surprise the villages ; but they found 
the Chickasaws thoroughly warned and on their guard, 
shut up in their strongholds, from which no demonstra- 
tions could entice them, save once or twice when 
they came out for a brief moment to display a white 


C^loron intrenched himself, and after allowing some 
days of skirmishing to his Indians, opened the desired 
negotiations. The French prisoners were returned, and 
the Chickasaw chiefs provided with sufificient guarantees 
to induce them to visit Fort Assumption ; but C^loron 
warned them that they would not be listened to unless 
they delivered up the Natchez. The Chickasaws, equal 
to this as to other occasions, replied that although they 
had bound and imprisoned their Natchez guests in order 
to deliver them, unfortunately some of their young men 
had loosed them, and all had escaped to the Cherokees 
except three. 

At Fort Assumption there was no desire to prolong 
negotiations or force issues. The Chickasaw chiefs 
were made to appear in the eyes of the French Indians 
as the suppliants for peace ; they were reconciled with 
their Northern foes, but their quarrel with the Choc- 
taws was kept carefully alight. Their excuses for the 
escape of the Natchez were received without criticism, 
and the three devoted scapegoats for the nation handed 
over to the French savages. These, with a Natchez 
woman and three children, and four English traders cap- 
tured and treated to a free voyage to France, constitute 
the net results of the gain of the war to the French, — 
unless, which might be taken into consideration, the 
several succeeding years of good conduct of the Chick- 
asaws be attributed, not to their own needed repose after 
a strenuous effort, but to the effects upon their minds 
of the sight of the French resources, and the evidence 
of the commander's determination to apply them, had 
the forces of nature, which savages can respect, not 
been against him. During the latter part of March, 


Bienville dismissed his allies, who took their departure 
north, west, and south. Destroying his depot at St. 
Francis River and his Fort Assumption, he himself set 
out for New Orleans on the ist of April. 

Bienville, in terminating his despatch to the minister, 
says all that could be said about his failure : " I feel 
with grief that your Highness will not be satisfied with 
this enterprise which has cost the king so much expense ; 
but I flatter myself at the same time that you will kindly 
observe that I did not neglect a single precaution neces- 
sary to render the campaign as glorious as his Majesty 
had reason to expect ; " relating the conjunction, in 
time, of all his reinforcements, his store of provisions, 
more than necessary, had it not been for the inevitable 
obstacles, his loss of cattle and horses. " At any rate, 
my Lord, if we have not come out of the affair with all 
the glory we had a right to promise ourselves, the glory 
of the king's arms has not suffered." 




Bienville's sense of failure increased instead of di- ' 
minishing, after his arrival in New Orleans. His dis- 
couragement seems to have sapped from his heart all 
the old optimistic verve that had vivified his devotion 
to the colony, — his colony, as he had some right to 
consider it. Far from maintaining, as of yore, his 
right and his sufficiency, as best man, to it, in its mis- 
fortunes as in its prosperity, he wrote to the minister, 
June 18, 1740: — 

" The labour, the anxiety, and the trouble of mind which 
I have had to bear for the eight years during which it has 
pleased your Highness to maintain me in this government, 
have so enfeebled my health that I should not hesitate to 
supplicate you to give me leave to cross over to France 
by the first vessel of the king, if the interest of the colony 
and that of my reputation did not exact of me that I 
should put the finishing touches to the treaty of peace I 
have commenced with the Chickasaws, and which I do 
not think proper to hasten to a conclusion, in order to give 
the Choctaws time to avenge themselves upon the Chicka- 
saws and their protectors for the insults they have re- 
ceived. This remainder of the war will only weaken the 
Choctaws the more, and disgust the English with trading 
with our tribes. It is thus, after having re-established 
peace and tranquillity in the colony, that I desire that it may 


be permitted me to make a voyage to France to restore 
my exhausted health. I supplicate your Highness, there- 
fore, kindly to ask permission of the king for me. I do 
not expect to be able to profit by it before the return of 
the vessel of 1742, and in case France does not take part 
in the war which is lighted in Europe." 

There is no allusion in any of his reports or letters 
to the jealousies, piques, and contentions with which 
the engineer, Deverge, sought to excuse some of the 
unsuccess of the expedition. On the contrary, writing, 
so soon after his humiliation, of the promotions among 
the officers, he makes a moving plea that they be paid 
in bills of exchange, instead of in the vitiated card 
money of the colony : — 

"Losses have fallen upon them, . . . which make their 
life so hard that it is not possible for them to maintain 
themselves here. ... I supplicate his Highness to have 
some regard to the very humble prayer which I have the 
honour of making him. I know that the officers who have 
no plantations, however moderately they live, cannot sus- 
tain themselv s without going into debt; and those who 
have plantations have difficulty in keeping even with their 


To his nephew, De Noyau, returning to France at 
his own expense, he pays the tribute, "that, naturally 
generous, he had, upon all occasions upon which he 
was commander, and principally in the last campaign, 
made expenditures so much above his salary that al- 
though he enjoyed a good revenue, he could not have 
made the voyage without the assistance of his friends." 

While awaiting a response from the minister, the 


Choctaws were, by degrees, brought into a more reliable 
union with the French than they had ever been, while 
their war against the Chickasaws was continued with a 
vigour and spirit that astonished the latter ; who, retailing 
their successful raids and skirmishes, declared that they 
now fought even better than the Chickasaws. 

The year 1741 was another hard one for the colony. 
Two tornadoes in September swept away all the crops 
in the field, and destroyed all the magazines of pro- 
visions and the shipping along the Gulf coast and 
Delta. New Orleans and its environs alone escaped. 
The commandant at Mobile and De Soubois, " lieu- 
tenant du roi," described to the minister the dire straits 
of the colonists for food and shelter; the latter in 
proof that the human mind never sees misfortunes 
come singly, — the deperdition of population, the fears 
of Indians, and the general insecurity felt by all, in 
Bienville's treaty with the Chickasaws. 

The minister's response did not spare Bienville either 
for the abortionate campaign, the calamities of na- 
ture, or, what appeared as intolerable to him (pre- 
sumably the cited deperdition of population), for the 
permission given by him for two families to pass over 
into the island of St. Domingo ; and he was told that 
he must find it agreeable to conform to the commands 
of his Majesty, which forbade, without royal orders, 
his allowing any inhabitant to leave the colony. 

The desired permission to resign was not withheld, 
and during the two following years Bienville was oc- 
cupied, as he said, in removing difficulties out of the 
path of his successor, — sending without intermission 
his Canadian-commanded Choctaws against the Chicka- 


saws ; rooting out the remnants of Natchez still in the 
country; bushwhacking the English traders and their 
caravans ; preparing his outposts to meet an attack of 
the English in case of war ; assisting Pensacola with 
cannon, and his intermediati.on to secure the neu- 
trality of neighbouring Indians ; instructing Soubois, 
whom he expected to command in the interval be- 
tween his departure and the arrival of his successor, in 
his Indian policy and management of the Choctaws, 
sending him to Mobile to make the yearly distribution 
of presents ; correcting abuses in the finances ; draw- 
ing up ordinances with Salmon, to prevent frauds in 
the tobacco ; writing a memorial upon the " wax-tree ; " 
and sending the reports of experiments and investiga- 
tions made by Du Pratz and Alexandre, a botanist. 

Soubois, completely reacting during the time from 
his former critical judgments, wrote, June, 1742, a hand- 
some retraction and apology to the minister for it, with a 
long explanation of how his error came about, — through 
the reports of an ill-named " Bonnefoi ; " stating that 
he had made the same retraction to Bienville, to whom 
also he had communicated at the time his criticism 
on the Chickasaw peace. 

Of the financial distress and scarcities of the colony, 
for which the minister held him responsible with Salmon, 
Bienville gave the simple explanation, March, 1741, — 

" For some time past there has been speculating here 
in bills of exchange as in specie ; but either because it was 
not so public, or so considerable, it is only since my return 
from my last campaign that I have heard of several indi- 
viduals using all the credit they have to obtain bills of ex- 
change from France, and selling them to the merchants 


here for card money, at a profit of fifty per cent. I am 
assured that on the departure of the last vessel some were 
sold at sixty per cent profit. I think Salmon could not 
have known of this abuse, or he would have promptly 
stopped it. However, it has had all the bad results it could 
have. Card money has fallen into as great discredit as 
* bons ' on the Treasury. . . . Everything that comes from 
France has risen to an exorbitant price, for the merchants 
. . . have to protect themselves. Every one has suffered 
except the speculators." 

In taking cognizance of the matter, he protests that 
he has never been consulted about it, that none of 
the financial business of the colony had been commu- 
nicated to him, and that he disagreed so completely 
with Salmon, who took the side of the speculators, 
that the latter would not set foot in -lis house. The 
scarcity of provisions came as much from the poor 
quality of provisions sent as from the lack of them ; and 
as for the merchants of France appearing discouraged 
with trading with the colony, he had not seen a vessel 
arrive that had sold its cargo below one hundred per cent 
profit, and for the last eighteen months certain merchan- 
dise had brought four or five hundred per cent profit. 
** It is no longer doubtful but that this country will become 
flourishing," he asseverates, in spite of all unfavourable 
prognostics, and in the face of the complaining letters of 
Soubois. His difference with Salmon, lasting through 
the year, received the prompt admonition of the min- 
ister, for both participants denied the responsibility of 
it. Bienville, for his part of it, assured the minister that 
no spirit of bickering had come into the rupture, and 
that he had nothing to reproach himself with in this 


regard ; " and if your Highness were informed of my 
conduct with this officer, you could reproach me only 
with too much complaisance and more consideration 
than was proper in my position." He had, however, 
sacrificed his resentment to the will of the minister, and 
had lent himself to all the propositions of reconciliation 
made by De Noyau, who had charged himself with 
the making up, and that he must say M. de Salmon 
had shown the same disposition. 

In the same letter, March 26, 1742, recurring again 
to his Chickasaw compromise, and defending it, he 
evinces the continuation of his unmitigated sense of 
discouragement : — 

" If success had always responded to my application to 
the affairs of this government, and to my zeal for the ser- 
vice of the king, I should willingly have consecrated the 
rest of my days to him ; but a species of fatality, for some 
time, pursuing and thwarting most of my best-concerted 
plans, has often made me lose the fruit of my labours, and 
perhaps a part of the confidence of your Highness in me. 
I have not thought, therefore, that I should strain myself 
any longer against my misfortune. I wish that the officer 
who will be chosen to succeed me may be happier than I." 

His last demand upon the Government was, conjointly 
with Salmon, for a college for the colony, to be situated 
at New Orleans, — a demand which was refused. 

The Marquis de Vaudreuil, his successor, arrived on 
the loth of May, 1743, when Bienville took his depart- 
ure from the colony, never more to see it. He had 
passed forty-four years working in it and for it. As 
a mark of favour, the Minister of Marine allowed him the 
bills of exchange asked for, in which to place the pro- 


ceeds of the sale of his property. The fear of bearing 
too heavily upon the commerce, he said, had made him 
ask for only sixty thousand livres, which would be about 
the sum of his effects and a part of his negroes. He 
had decided not to sell his land at present, nor the rest 
of his negroes. His salary for the last term of his 
appointment was twelve thousand livres a year. 




1 765-1 769. 

Out of the oblivion of his after Hfe in Paris the figure 
of Bienville arises but once again into history, at the 
appeal of the colony which had learned to call him 
" Father." It is an episode which local traditions cher- 
ish, — a scene the imagination loves to represent. 

Step by step the English had advanced in the progress 
of their domination of the Nevv World. Step by step 
France had receded from the high-sounding *' prises de 
possessions " of her explorers and pioneers -, piecemeal 
by piecemeal the soil, wet with the blood of her martyrs 
to King and Church, had been thrown in to make good 
weight in P]uropean treaties. 

The English flag floated over Canada ; its presence 
formed a line of demarcation down the Mississippi, with 
the exception of New Orleans and the island, taking in 
all the territory to the east, and joining it to their Spanish 
acquisition in Florida. And by secret treaty, that which 
the English did not take, was ceded to Spain. 

At Versailles, April 21, 1764, the king and his minis- 
ter, De Choiseul, signed the instrument which instructed 
the Governor of Louisiana, Avadie, to make known to 
the colonists the fact of the donation to and accept- 
ance by Charles III. of Spain of their country and 


It seemed too incredible, even from a king of France, 
too base even from Louis XV. The colonists passed 
from their first state of consternation to one of delibera- 
tive reason. By a precocious intuition of the rights of a 
people, a large and notable assembly, composed of repre- 
sentatives from every parish, was held in New Orleans ; 
and to the orders of the king to Avadie, they responded, 
by unanimous resolution, with a petition from themselves 
to the king, — a petition heart-moving in its appeal not 
to be thrown out from their mother-country, not to be 
cut off from their ancestral allegiance. 

Jean Milhet was deputed to take this petition to 
France and lay it at the foot of the throne. Arrived 
in Paris, Milhet sought out Bienville, — always, tradi- 
tion relates, the eager recipient of news from Lou- 
isiana, and the most indignant mourner over its 

The young ensign of the discovery of the Mississippi 
was then in his eighty-sixth year. The white-haired 
Canadian patriarch appeared with the y^ung deputy 
before the courtesan's servitor who had penned it all 
away, — the great Mississippi river, valley, and delta, 
the long, unbroken line of Gulf coast, Iberville's great 
scheme, his own great colony, the city he had founded. 

The chronicle merely adds that De Choiseul man- 
aged to prevent both them and their petition from 
coming under the eyes of the king, who, in his satur- 
nalian orgies, far from remembering that he had ever 
had a Bienville, had forgotten that he ever possessed 
a Louisiana. 

Bienville died in 1768, passing from his unknown 
home in Paris to his unknown lomb in Montmartre. 


He was spared overliving the final passing of his col- 
ony, family, and friends under the Spanish yoke. 

During Milhet's absence the colonists, with the blind 
faith of bigots in their king and country, refused recog- 
nition of Spanish authority, ordering the Spanish gov- 
ernor, Ulloa, and his ships away. 

Milhet returned with the account of his fruitless ef- 
forts. The colony fell into the desperation that suc- 
ceeds to hoping against hope. A wild, premature flutter 
for liberty broke out in their councils. Their talk, their 
speeches, rang with a tone which was afterwards to be 
qualified in history as "American." Armed prepara- 
tions were being made. O'Reilly, the avenger of Ulloa 
and Spanish royalty, landed in New Orleans, July, 1769. 
On the 25th October following, six of the rebels, 
as they were called, were shot in the barrack yard. 
Among them was Bienville's grand-nephew, the young 
Jean Baptiste, commonly known as Bienville de Noyau. 
Six more were exported to Cuba and condemned to 
prison for terms varying from six years to lifetime. 
The twelve had their property confiscated. All the 
"chiefs and authors of the rebellion," as wrote Ulloa 
to Grinaldi, minister of Spain, were the children of 
Canadians who had followed Bienville to Louisiana, 
" and who had received so little education that they 
did not know even how to write, having come, with 
the axe on their shoulder, to live by the work of their 



In the name of the Father, etc. 

Persuaded, as I am, of the necessity of death, and of 
the uncertainty of the hour, I wish, before it arrives, to 
put my affairs in order. Firstly, I consign my soul to 
God. I wish to live and die in the bosom of the Church. 
I implore the mercy of God and of Jesus Christ, my 
Saviour. I ask the protection of the Holy Virgin, Mother 
of God, and of Saint John the Baptist, my patron saint, 
and of all the saints of paradise. 

I give and bequeath to the poor of the parish in which 
I die, the sum of one thousand pounds, in one payment. 
I direct that three hundred masses be said for the repose 
of my soul, in such church as my testamentary executor 
may choose. I give and bequeath to the herein-named 
Venraine, called Picard, my valet, a pension of two hun- 
dred and fifty pounds during his life, if he be in my ser- 
vice the day of my death. Moreover, an agreement shall 
be made with him, by which he shall receive, by the pay- 
ment of two hundred and fifty pounds, a life rental of the 
house I placed over his head. I further give and be- 
queath to him my wardrobe, consisting of all my personal 
apparel, such as coats, shirts. I further give him the bed 
and bedding on which he sleeps, 

I give and bequeath to the herein-named Renaud, my 
cook, the sum of three hundred pounds, if she remain 
in my service till the day of my death. 

I give and bequeath to the herein-named Mardchal, 
my footman, two hundred francs, to be paid at once, if 
he remain in my service till the day of my death. 


I give and bequeath to the herein-named Marguerite, 
the girl who helps in the kitchen, sixty francs, if she 
remain in my service till the day of my death. 

I declare that all my property is acquired, and that 
the little which I should have received from my father and 
mother was lost during my minority ; for this reason, 
being free to dispose of my property in favour of whom 
I please, I wish by this will, as much as is in my power, 
to give to all of my nearest relatives marks of my friend- 
ship and liberality. 

I give and bequeath to my nephew, Payau de Noyau, 
Seigneur de Charoy, in lower Normandy, son of my sister 
Le Moyne de Noyau, the sum of ten thousand pounds, 
to be taken from the share of my grand-nephew, Payau 
de Noyau, to whom I advanced a like sum of ten thousand 
pounds to buy a commission in the cavalry, and whose 
note I hold. 

I give and bequeath to my nephew Le Moyne de 
Longueil, son of my eldest brother, Le Moyne de Lon- 
gueil, a diamond worth fifteen hundred francs, to be paid 
at once. 

I give and bequeath to my two grand-nieces, De 
Grandire de Laranaie [or Saranaie], who are daughters 
of my niece Le Moyne d' Iberville, who was daughter 
of my brother Le Moyne d'Iberville, each a diamond 
worth fifteen hundred pounds. 

I make and institute my universal legatees for one 
fourth, my grand-nephew Le Moyne de Longueil, son of 
my nephew Le Moyne de Longueil, who is son of my 
eldest brother Le Moyne de Longueil ; my nephew Le 
Moyne de Sdrigny, younger son of my brother Le Moyne 
de S^rigny, for another fourth. My nephew Le Moyne de 
Chateauguay, who is the son of my brother Le Moyne de 
Chateauguay, for another fourth. And my grand-nephews 
Le Moyne de Sdrigny de Loir, and their sister, children 


of my nephew Le Moyne de S^rigny de Loir, for the last 

I charge my said universal legatees to pay all my just 
debts, should I leave any, — I do not think I shall, — 
and to carry out all the provisions of this my present will. 

1 name as executor of this will my said nephew Le 
Moyne de S^rigny, younger son of my brother Le Moyne 
de S^rigny, praying and desiring him to execute my pres- 
ent will as containing my last wishes. To this end I re- 
voke all other wills and codicils, this present one containing 
my last wishes. 

Made, written, and signed by my hand in Paris the 

fifteenth of January, one thousand seven hundred and 


Le Moyne de Bienville. 

On the margin : — 

Registered in Paris, the fifteenth of April, one thou- 
sand seven hundred and sixty-seven. 

Received : sixty-five pounds. — Langlois. 

I have forgotten in this will to make mention of my 
nephew Payau de Noyau, son of my sister Le Moyne de 
Noyau, to whom I give and bequeath a diamond worth 
fifteen hundred pounds. 

Paris, the fifteenth of April, one thousand seven hun- 
dred and sixty-five. 

Le Moyne de Bienville. 

Registered in Paris, April fifteenth, seventeen hun- 
dred and sixty-seven. 

Received : thirteen cents. — Langlois. 


Alabama Mingo, 281. 

Bienville. See De Bienville. 
Black Code, the, 273. 

Cadillac, M. de la Motte, 1S9- 
194, 206, 207, 210, 212, 224, 227, 

Choctaws and Chickasaws., 141, 280, 
281, 297-300. See Indians. 

Crozat, Antoine de, 187, 207, 231. 

D'Artaguette, Diron de, 183, 
184, 185, 231, 254. 

Dauphin Island (Massacre Island), 
182, 184, 185, 191, 249-251. 

De Bienville, Jean Baptiste Le 
Moyne, Sieur de, birth, i ; ances- 
try, I, 2; becomes Sieur de Bien- 
ville, 9; joins d'Iberville, lo, ii, 
12 ; acts as spy, 16 ; personal in- 
cidents, 26-29, 31, 32, 35, 60 ; 
appointed lieutenant, 74 ; false- 
hoods attributed to, 81 ; quoted, 
100-106, 172, 198-205, 246, 247, 
259, 275, 296,301, 314, 315,318, 
320 ; on Red River, 107 ; left in 
charge of fort, 108 ; at Biloxi, 
115; explores Mobile River, 122, 
123 ; executive of the Louisiana 
territory, 128; campaign a2;ainst 
the Alabamas, 132-136 ; admin- 
istration of, 147, 148 ; troubles 
with De la Vente, 148-159 ; asks 
to be relieved, 159, 160; troubles 
with De la Salle, 162, 163 ; pro- 
visional dismissal of, 167 ; defence 
of, 169-172; vindicated by D'Ar- 
tajuette, 173; placed in charge of 

the Indian department, 188 ; war 
widi the Natchez, 211-227; is 
decorated and receives Horn 
Island, 228; made Commandant- 
General, 232 ; takes Pensacola, 
238, 239; attacked by Spaniards, 
241-243; retakes Pensacola, 244 ; 
honours withheld from, 256; lays 
out New Orleans, 257 ; superseded 
by Duvergier, 260; triumph of, 
262; second war upon the Nat- 
chez, 266-269; returns to France, 
274; ruin of, 277; revisits Louis- 
iana, 287; war with Indians, 294- 
314; final departure for France, 
320; death ot, 323; will of, 325- 

De la Salle, Commissairc, 152, 153, 
154, 162, 163, 175, 185. 

De la Vente, Le Cur^, 140, 145, 
146, 14S-152, 163, 1S5. 

De I'Epinay, Lieut and Gov., 229. 

De S^rigny, Le Moyne, 118, 238, 

D'Iberville, Pierre Le Moyne^ 
Sieur, takes charge of Mississippi 
expedition, 10; returns to France, 
108; second visit to Louisiana, 
118; final return to France, 127; 
death of, 158. 

Du Pratz, Le Page, 235, 236, 237, 

Du Ru, le pfere, 114. 

English intrigues with Indians, 
209, 249, 261,266, 293. 

Gravier, le p^re, 109, 110, iii, 
146, 156. 



Hachard, Madeleine, quoted, 289. 

Iberville. See D'lbcrville. 

Indians, human sacrifices among, 
93, 94; situation of the various 
tribes of, 129; Indian girls, 180; 
wars with, 132-136, 211-227, 
266-269, 294-314; general peace 
made by De Bienville, 186; Eng- 
lish intrigues with, 209, 249, 261, 
266, 293. 

Jesuits, the, 149, 150, 291. 
Journal llistorique, quoted, 253- 
256, 265. 

Law, John, 231, 234, 253,258. See 

Mississippi Scheme. 
Le Moyne, Jean liaptiste. See De 

Longueuil, Baron de, quoted, 108. 
Longueuil, Chateau de, 8. 
Louisiana, government of, 248, 273 ; 

ecclesiastical disputes in, 285. 

Massacre Island (Dauphin Is- 
land), 182, 184, 1S5, 191, 249, 
250, 251. 

Mississippi River, discovery of the 
mouth of, 35 ; ascent of by 
D'Iberville, 39-60; second as- 
cent of, 84. 

Mississippi Scheme, 231, 234, 249, 
250. 251, 253, 25c, 2'^58. 

Mobile, 137, 182, 184, 195, 234. 

Mobile Kiver, explored by De Bien- 
ville, 122. 

Natchez Indians, 89, 90, 91 ; 
first war with, 211-227; second 
war with, 266-269 ; massacre by, 
279; third war with, 280-284. 

New Orleans, laid out by Dc Bien- 
ville, 257; made capital of Louis- 
iana, 262-264 ; tornado at, 264 ; 
described by Madeleine Hachard, 

Pennicaut, narrativeof, 179, 180. 
I'ensacola, besieged by Indians, 181 ; 

taken by French, 238, 239, 244, 

264, 266. 
Pontchartrain, Lake, 66, 69. 
Primot (Tierry), Catherine, 1, 2, 


Ragnet, Sieur, quoted, 271 ; con- 
demned, 276. 

Sageau, Mathieu, 113. 

Sauvole, Sieur de, -]■},, 74, 75, 'JT, 

death of, 115. 
Slave trade in Louisiana, 251, 253. 
Spain and France, 238, 263. 

ToNTY, Henri de, 139. 

Women sent from France to Louis- 
iana, 138, 145, 183, 206. 

Yellow Fever in Louisiana, 13S. 


The following is a list of the subjects and authors so 
far arranged for in this series. The volumes will 
be published at the uniform price of $1.00, and 
will appear in rapid succession : — 

Christopher Columbus (1436-1506), and the Discov- 
ery of the New World. By Charles Kendall 
Adams, President of Cornell University. 

John Winthrop (1588- 1649), First Governor of 
the Massachusetts Colony. By Rev. Joseph H. 


Robert Morris (1734-1806), Superintendent of Finance 
under the Continental Congress. By Prof. William 
G. Sumner, of Yale University. 

James Edward Oglethorpe (1689-1785), and the Found- 
ing of the Georgia Colony. By Henry Bruce, 

John Hughes, D.D. (i 797-1864), First Archbishop of 
New -York : a Representative American Catholic. 
By Henry A. Brann, D.D. 

Robert Fulton (1765-1815): His Life and its Results. 
By Prof. R H. Thurston, of Cornell University. 

Francis Higginson (1587- 1630), Puritan, Author of 
" New England's Plantation," etc. By Thomas W. 


PeUr Sluyvesant (1602- 1682), and the Dutch Settle- 
ment of New- York. By Bayarij Tuckekman, 
Esq., author of a '' Life of General Lafayette, " 
editor of the " Diary of Piiilip Hone," etc., etc. 

Thomas Hooker (i 586-1647), Theologian, Founder of 
the Hartford Colony. By George L. Walkek, 

Charles Sumner (1S11-1874), Statesman. By Anna 
L. Dawes. 

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Third President of the 
United States. By James Schoulek, Esq., author 
of "A History of the United States under the 

William White (1748-1836), Chaplain of the Continen- 
tal Congress, of Pennsylvania, President of 
the Convention to organize the Protestant Episcopal 
Church in America. By Rev. Julius H. Ward, 
with an Introduction by Right Rev. Henry C. Potter, 
D.D., Bishop of New- York. 

Jean Baptiste Lemoine, st'eur 6e Bienville (i 680-1 768), 
French Governor of Louisiana, Founder of New 
Orleans. By Grace King, author of " Monsieur 

Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), Statesman, Finan- 
cier, Secretary of the Treasury. By Prof. William 
G. Sumner, of Yale University. 

Father Juniper Serra (1713-1784), and the Franciscan 
Missions in California. By John Gilmary Shea, 

Cotton Mather (1663-1728), Theologian, Author, Be- 
liever in Witchcraft and the Supernatural. By Prof. 
Barrett Wendell, of Harvard University. 


Robert Caveller, sieur de La Salle (1643-1607), Ex- 
plorer of the Northwest and the Mississippi. By 
Edward G, Mason, Esq., President of the Histori- 
cal Society of Chicago, author of " Illinois" in the 
Commonwealth Series. 

Thomas Nelson (1738-1789), Governor of Virginia, 
General in the Revolutionary Army. Embracing a 
Picture of Virginian Colonial Life. By Thomas 
Nelson Page, author of "Mars Chan," and other 
popular stories. 

George and Cecilius Calvert, Barons Baltimore of 
Baltimore (i 605-1676), and the Founding of the 
Maryland Colony. By William Hand Browne, 
editor of " The Archives of Maryland.' 

Sir "William Johnson (17 15-1774), and The Six Na- 
tions. By William Elliot Griffis, D.D., author 
of "The Mikado's Empire," etc., etc. 

Sam. Houston (1793- 1862), and the Annexation of 
Texas. By Henry Bruce, Esq. 

Joseph Henry, LL.D. (i 797-1 878), Savant and Natural 
Philosopher. By Frederic H Betts, Esq. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson. By Prof. Herman Grimm, 

author of " The Life of Michael Angelo," " The Life 
and Times of Goethe,'' etc. 

•••* • r. .* I •/''.* ^^^ tl'^vJ^. Braaiizuj-iy, New York 

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